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Monday, January 6, 2014

Scare me, I dare you! writing contest second honorable mention submission

Congratulations to our second honorable mention submission author Nicole Cushman

her story begins now...

“It’s getting cold.” I heard Emily mutter as we walked through the crackling leaves beneath our feet. “Well maybe you should’ve brought a coat like mom told you to.” I said with a smart aleck tone. She looked up at me and rolled her eyes. With a smirk on my face I looked down at my feel noticing all of the different colored leaves on the cold ground. We slowly approached the front porch of a big dark green house. To the right of the front door there was a skeleton sitting on a bench with pumpkins at his feet. I looked up at the door and before I could even attempt to ring the doorbell the door knob turned and out pooped a zombie mask. “Hey James.” It was my best friend Beef. At least, that’s what we called him. I’ve known Beef from the first day of third grade. He was intimidating at first, but he’s really just a big, sweet teddy bear. “Trick or Treat!” yelled Emily. “You don’t really think that there is any candy left in my house do you?” laughed Beef. “C’mon dude! It’s already getting dark out! Let’s get going, Mumbling Cabin isn’t going to be around forever!”
            “Beef what are you talking about?” I asked extremely confused.
            “Well I just thought we would do something a bit more… interesting tonight.” Beef replied with a smile.
            It was dark, and surprisingly colder. “Come on Beef. Where are we going? I’m freezing.” I asked looking up into the tall, bare trees that surrounded us. “Well maybe you should’ve brought your coat like mom told you to.” Emily mocked as she giggled. “So what is this Mumbling Cabin anyways?” Beef looked down at Emily in her ridiculous fairy costume. “I researched haunted stories that happened in New Jersey. There is this story about a family who lived in a little cabin in the forest, a young couple with two daughters. They say one Halloween night, like the one tonight,” Beef mentioned as he stared down at Emily “The youngest daughter sat up in her bed and started rocking back and forth while she mumbled words that no one could quite make out. One night, the older sister snuck into her room to check on her because she was worried; and the next morning the older sister --- Gone. One by one, family members vanished. Legend has it that the little sister still roams the cabin just waiting…”
            “Waiting for what?” Emily asked with alarm.
            “WAITING TO POSSESS LITTLE GIRLS LIKE YOU!” Beef yelled as he threw his hands in the air. Emily punched him. “Stop it!” she said with a frown. I shook my head and laughed. I was impressed, but felt bad because Emily was horrified.
            The cabin was tiny. I tried to imagine living in it with a whole family, but was too creeped out from the dark, broken down cabin and the horrid smell of rotten meat to even imagine the thought. As we walked up to the cabin I looked down at Emily. I could tell she was scared. “I’m staying out here, James.” She demanded. “Baby” I heard Beef say under his breath. I followed him, looking at my sister until the door creaked closed behind me.
            I pinched my nose shut because of the stench as I looked around. “See there is nothing here. Can we go?” I said talking with my plugged nose. Beef ignored me and walked into the next small room. I followed behind him and ran into him because of a sudden stop. His jaw dropped. “Oh. My. Gosh.” I looked over his shoulder and saw a human figure in a rocking chair that creaked with every movement. It faced towards the corner so I couldn’t see it clearly. I noticed long grey hair. It was an old woman. Beef turned around and ran out the door before I could say a word. Forgetting my fears, I tried quieting my breath as I approached the woman. Opening my mouth I pushed out a sentence and placed my hand on her shoulder. “Are y...you okay…” she looked up at me with cold, black eyes and screeched. I stumbled to the ground and watched as the room went dark. Minutes, maybe hours later my eyes opened, but instead of the old woman I saw Emily rocking in the chair, mumbling.

view the contest parameters HERE

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Scare me, I dare you! writing contest first honorable mention submission

Congratulations to the writer of our first honorable mention submission, Anna McCall!

Her story begins now...

The Replacement
            Annabel reached up with lifeless, pale fingers as her glassy, once-beautiful eyes stared into mine. Struggling with all my might, my six-year-old strength wasn’t enough to lift my older sister, my Queen Bel, from her prison of water.
            I love you, Sir John, she mouthed. Her hand went limp and the sweet blue eyes drifted closed.
            I sat straight up in bed, sweating and choking, with tears streaming down my face. It had been nine years since Annabel’s death, but the nightmares were just as vivid as if it had happened yesterday.
            That was the darkest time of my life. Annabel had been my world. I called her Queen Bel, and she called me Sir John. After my queen was taken from me, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Every day I walked to the creek where she had drowned, sitting on the rock that had been her throne and wishing she was still with me.
            But, about one week after her passing, someone unexpected decided to join me.
            “Hello,” piped a sweet voice behind me.
            I turned, startled. “Oh, hello. I’m John.”
            The big brown eyes looked me over. “Wow, John, you’re little. Maybe I should call you Little John.” The eyes twinkled mischievously now. “And you may call me Maid Marian.” The fairylike effigy dipped into a princess curtsy.
            “Where are you from? I haven’t met you before.”
            “You needed me, Little John, and so I came.”
            From then on, I spent every day with Marian – until school started. I tried to get out to the woods by my home every afternoon to meet her, but my mother thought I spent too much time out there and kept me in. Still, I saw my Maid Marian from the window every day, watching and waiting from behind the trees until Saturday, when we could spend the day as we wished. She reminded me so much of Annabel, and I clung to her tightly to keep my head above the sea of darkness that threatened to swallow me after my sister’s death.
            Now I was fifteen, and Marian had somewhat faded into the background as high school became friends, sports, and homework. Though I never forgot her and what she meant to me, she had fallen to the wayside like so many other childhood things.
            Until she returned.
            It began to happen at a point when my nightmares grew more recurrent. I saw Marian more and more frequently, watching and waiting from her place in the trees. At first I thought I was sleep deprived; that my mind was reliving memories and connecting with my nightmares. Of course, Marian would also be fifteen by now, and it was silly to think this little delusion was really her. One evening at dinner, though, my mother brought up something that gave me chills:
            “I just learned that there was a little girl – oh, about six – who lived around here several years ago. She died in the same spot that we lost our Annabel. Isn’t that a strange coincidence?”
            Behind her, out the window, a mocking smile spread slowly over Marian’s pretty face.
            After that, she was everywhere: I brushed my teeth, and she was standing in the mirror; went to get a snack, and she was sitting daintily on the counter; went to get dressed, and she was hiding in the shirts. And every time, she would say the same thing: “I miss you, Little John. Don’t you want to play?”
            Every time I would leave as quickly as I could, saying, “No, Marian, I don’t want to play.” Eventually I lost my nerve and shouted at her.
            She paused for a moment, then smiled. “That’s fine, John.”
            I didn’t see her after that. Weeks passed without any unnatural occurrence, and I had stopped jumping at every flicker of a light switch. One day I came home from school and was looking for my mother. Thinking she was in her room, I climbed the stairs and pushed open the door.
            She wasn’t there. Sighing, I decided to check the backyard, where she might be doing yard work or reading on the porch. As I turned to leave, I glanced into the bathroom and uttered a strangled cry.
            There was the bloated body of my mother, floating lifelessly in the bathtub.
            Behind me rose a sickly sweet voice:
            “You need me, Little John. Won’t you come and play?”
view the contest parameters HERE 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Scare me, I dare you! third place entry

Congratulations to the author of our third place entry, Rebekah Laybourn!

her story begins now...

Everyone says it’s my fault the children died. But if they’d been there, they would know that I never had the chance to save those kids.

            I tightly folded my arms as I strolled down the street. The air lightly nibbled at my skin. It was October and the steel-gray Nebraska sky threatened a thunderstorm. I was in an old neighborhood near the University of Nebraska. The neighborhood was dreary but beautiful and full of Victorian mansions. I was babysitting for a fabulously wealthy young couple. They had two children: Max, who was three years old, and Lily, who was five. Their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Donahue, were attending a raunchy musical at the Lied, and they had offered to pay me 200 dollars to watch their kids. I had gladly accepted, even though I didn’t know the family well.

            I reached the house and I marveled at its beauty. It was freshly coated in creamy white paint, the porch swing slowly rocked back and forth, and the light from inside glowed through the dark storm windows. The lawn was slowly browning, dotted with cherubic garden gnomes, and full of violets and petunias which were beginning to die.

 I was warmly welcomed into their home with hugs that made me feel as if I had known the family forever. The parents gave me simple instructions for the care of the children: Make dinner, play a few games, and put the kids to bed at nine o’clock before retiring to library to labor over my school assignments. If I needed anything, I could reach the Mr. and Mrs. Donahue on their cell phone.

The children were sweet, adorable, respectful and easy to care for. Max and Lily were quiet and well behaved, providing a quiet, relaxing break from the rowdy children who lived across the street from me. When I asked what they wanted for dinner, they requested macaroni and cheese. I was relieved that they had asked for something so simple and easy. After dinner, I blew bubbles with them and played Candy Land. I helped the children brush their teeth before putting them to bed at nine o’clock. Then I went to the downstairs library.

First, I read the newspaper, hoping to find an interesting story that I could use for my Current Events presentation in American History. The front page told the story of a serial killer who invaded homes while dressed in costume.

It wasn’t until then that I noticed a life-size clown statue in the corner. It was the creepiest thing I had ever seen. His smile was so wide that it seemed as though his cheekbones could tear through his skin at any moment. His eyes were beady and seemed to peer into my soul. I wondered why Mr. and Mrs. Donahue would keep something so disturbing in their library. I shook my head and begun working on my Algebra 2 homework.

As I studied, I kept getting distracted by the creepy clown statue. I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was watching me. I thought that perhaps I should check on the kids, but I decided against it. In all of the horror movies I had watched during the previous weekend, the babysitter always died when she went to check on the kids. I knew that Mr. and Mrs. Donahue would be home in less than two hours. I had nothing to worry about.

I felt terrified all the same. What if he was the serial killer who I’d read about? I decided that I was being stupid. I had obviously watched too many horror movies. I was in one of the safest neighborhoods in the city of Lincoln, Nebraska. I had nothing to fear.

Still, I was incredibly distracted. I had a lot of work to do and I couldn’t focus with the clown in the corner. I finally decided to call Mr. Donahue.

“Do you mind if I study somewhere else? The clown statue is really bothering me.”

He said to wait just a minute, and he promised to call me back. I wondered what his problem was. Why did he need to discuss it with his wife?

He called me two minutes later. I could detect intense worry in his voice.

“Get out of the house now, and take the kids with you. We don’t own a clown statue.”

Horrified, I looked up to see the clown. He was standing over me, holding a knife that was covered in something scarlet.

view the contest parameters HERE 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Scare me, I dare you! second place entry.

Congratulations to our runner-up, Gage Hanson!

His story begins now...

My Sister 

In my mind I can still clearly remember that day. The day that I stood a few yards away and watched helplessly as my sister slipped off of a rock she had been playing on and into the water. We had gone to the park near the river to escape the fight my parents were raging on that particular day. My eyes wandered from watching my sister and turned just in time for a brief moment of eye contact with her beautiful and sparkling blue eyes before she fell. I was there when they pulled her body out of the river. Her wrinkled skin, the cuts and bruises from smashing into the bottom of the lake, her hair matted and intertwined with weeds, and finally the sight of her empty eye sockets. Her eyes which had been ripped out by the current.

I had tried, and partially succeeded, in forcing the images of that day out of my mind but the sound of her body being pulled out of the river hooked itself into my memory and was as clear now as it was a year ago when I first heard it. The dripping of the river water and the splash of her soaking body hitting the ground when they dropped her were burned into my mind. My parents had moved on from this incident but I couldn’t get over it. I felt that it was my fault my sister was dead. I hadn’t been watching her carefully enough. I blamed myself and vowed to never let myself forget it, lest I make the same mistake again in the care of someone else.

A year ago to the day these events took place and tonight I sat in my basement, home alone, thinking to myself how I could have changed the outcome. My parents had left on a date, they recovered better than I did, and wouldn’t be back for a few more hours. They hadn’t cared much about us kids before my sister had died and after a brief period of grief carried on with life and cared even less about me, the new only child. For the past few hours I had worn myself out with worrying, stressing and speculation on why it had happened, how I could have stopped it, and how it was all my fault. The only time I had escaped my grief was when I slept, so I decided to go to bed. On the way to my bedroom, I turned into my bathroom to brush my teeth. As I pulled my toothpaste out of the drawer, I heard a faint sound. It was such a small and weak sound that it was difficult to distinguish it from the other sounds I constantly heard while home alone. The sound of creaking floorboards, a breeze rushing through the window, the crickets outside and the sound of occasional water droplets.

“That’s it,” I said to myself. It had been the sound of water dripping. I pulled back the shower curtain to turn off the faucet, but found it off. I shrugged and finished brushing. As I rinsed my brush and turned the water off, I heard a similar sound to one I had heard before except this one was longer and louder. It sounded like someone had wiped a puddle off a table and it had fallen to the floor. I poked my head out of the bathroom and looked around for the source of the sound. It stopped as suddenly as it started, and I couldn’t locate its origin. I decided it must be raining outside and went to my bedroom. I shut my window so no rain would weasel its way into my room, and turned off my light plunging the room into darkness. As darkness encompassed me, I heard a splash of water. This sound was unmistakably coming from the corner of my room. My eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness, and I made my way towards my closet. The sound grew louder and more frequent. When I was a few inches from my closet door, it sounded like a rain cloud formed in my closet. I reached forward, pulled it open and watched a wet soggy mass flop onto the ground. Followed by two small, round objects. I slowly and unwillingly looked down. My gaze was met by two sparkling blue eyes. 

view the contest parameters HERE 

My Top ten books of 2013

Using Goodreads is a very handy thing.  It was nice enough to compile a list of books that I've read over the past year making this quite easy.

View my list HERE (just click on the image)

So, the top ten...

The hands down winner is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  Beautifully written.  I can't wait to see the movie, which was released with limited distribution so I'm waiting for it to come out on DVD.

The book Thief

#2  The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

The Road Cormac McCarthy

#3 Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas David Mitchell

#4 Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder R.J. Palacio

#5 Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent Veronica Roth

#6 The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

The Girl who could fly victoria forester

#7 I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

I am the Messenger markus zusak

#8 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The secret garden Frances Hodgson Burnett

#9 A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

A dance with dragons by George R R Martin

#10 Son (The Giver #4) by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry

Each are excellent reads for their own reasons.  Read them all!

~In the book world, word of mouth is king~

Coming soon....

young adult, fantasy, fiction, the never chronicles, j.r. wagner, fantasy novel, book, bestseller

the second book from The Never Chronicles

Available now from J.R. Wagner...

The Never Chronicles, YA, Young Adult, social issues, novel, book, abuse

A tale of perseverance, strength and redemption.

In bookstores

the never chronicles, j.r. wagner, ya fantasy novel, fiction, exiled

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Scare me, I dare you! Winning entry.

Congratulations to our winner, Sharay Bridges.

The winning entry begins now... 

I walked into the hallway to see his room 246, Dr.Castreo. He greeted me at the door with a welcoming smile. “Are you my four o’clock?” I shook his hand.

“Yes, that’s me. I’m Jennie.”

“Nice to meet you, I am Dr.Castreo, come on in.”

 I scampered into his office like a scared little kid; my head was towards the floor. He put his arm on my shoulder as he told me to lie down on a small suede bed by a wave of his hand. I sat down and tried to calm myself, but I could swear my heart was racing a mile a minute.

“What has brought you to me today?” He questioned.
“My mother,” I sighed. “I have vivid nightmares almost every night. I don’t get rested and my grades are suffering horribly. I’m terrified to go to bed because of the darkness that hides within me.”

He showed no emotion, but crossed one leg over another as he replied “Would you like to tell me some more about these dreams?” I couldn’t look him in the eyes for the fact I thought he might think I’m crazy, finally I nodded. No. He leaned forward to look me face to face. “Jennie look at me.” He demanded. I glanced up at him till our eyes met, a river flew from my eyes and I wept. “You are safe here and you can talk to me,” he spoke open-heartily.

My hands began to tremble, and I lost my breath as I began to speak. “I—I dream of this girl, she comes to me every night. She kills the people I love and then she just smiles—that awful smile. She sits in the corner of the rooms. Any room. Everywhere I go she’s always there. It’s like I can’t escape her.”

Still looking me dead in the eyes he spoke “And this girl, what does she look like?”

“Dark stringy hair, deep brown eyes, and a mouth that smells worse than a rotting corpse, teeth are missing and she always smiles.”

 He leaned in even closer than he was before and examined me. “Go on with your dreams, tell me exactly what she does.”

“Well, she doesn’t like me talking about her, every time I do she crawls down the wall or a step. She gets closer to me, and if I walk up to her she just stares at me with, with that vicious smile.”

“Does she speak?” He asked.

“She whispers a song every time she kills someone, then it’s like a maze my head gets all jumbled up and I have to try and find who died, and while I’m searching she just sings. There goes one, there goes two, how many more before I get you?”

He tilted his head to the left and looked at me for a moment before he asked me. “Does she have a name?” then he chuckled a devious chuckle. I put my head to the floor as my heart started pounding.

He silently stood up walked over and grabbed something off of this desk, and said “Jennie the girl you’re describing sounds a lot like… You.” As he held a mirror up to my face I scream in horror at her reflection. For once when I was awake, I saw the demon that lived within my nightmares

 “HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU SHOW ME HER! YOU’RE WORKING WITH HER AREN’T YOU! AREN’T YOU!” I screamed. I was trembling with chills all down my body as I curled up in a ball and began to weep. He just looked startled by my reaction. “Jennie, I’m trying to help. You need it. Your mother, father, and little sister are dead. Dead because of you! Now look at your reflection. There is no monster in your dreams you are hiding in a false reality.”

Then I looked him in the eyes and began to sing “There goes one, there goes two, how many more before I get you?”

view the contest parameters HERE