This story, written by Chenin Simi, 11, is a GL Short Story Contest winner! It originally appeared in our book of short fiction. Enjoy reading it reprinted here…
It was Halloween night, and my friend Amanda and I were trick-or-treating. It was the first year our parents let us go out alone so we were in pretty good moods, laughing and carrying on while we walked. We were so wrapped up in our laughter we didn’t realize where we were going. When we came to our senses and looked up, we saw that we were deep in the middle of the dark woods.
About a dozen yards away towered a dark, run-down mansion. Amanda and I dared each other to go inside before deciding to venture in together. We stumbled up the creaky steps to the front porch and heaved the huge door open. We stepped inside to find ourselves in the remnants of a dusty living room.
Amanda spied the stairs first. When I looked at her, she nodded. Without saying a word, we went to the second floor. We looked down the long, dark hallway that loomed before us. There seemed to be hundreds of doorways on both sides!
I heard a soft moan spilling from a room on the right. Then another came from the left. The moans seemed to be trying to tell us something. But the sounds were muffled, and we could barely hear them. I don’t know what made us so fearless, but we continued down the hall as if under some sort of spell.
When we reached the end of the hallway, we saw the strangest thing we’ve ever witnessed—a huge, ancient book hovering in mid-air, a cloud of hazy light surrounding it. It was open to its exact center pages, and together Amanda and I began reading, “He who reads this manuscript shall not die in his own time but will live much longer.”
“Cool,” said Amanda. We continued, “Instead, he will suffer and be tortured gradually to his death.” Just then, the pages flipped as if a big gust of wind had come through the house.
Suddenly, we could make out what the voices were saying: “Help! Help! Run! Save yourselves! Run!” Not ones to ignore some pretty good advice, Amanda and I turned and ran. But our legs didn’t take us quickly enough, and a strong, ghostly hand grabbed us each by the neck.
We were thrown into an empty room, and a large figure in a long black cape appeared before us. “Welcome,” he said. “You’re our newest tenants.”
“Uh, hi,” I said uncomfortably.
“Enjoy your room,” he responded. “You’ll be here until you die.” At that, he turned to exit the room.
“Hey, wait a minute,” I said.
He whirled around. “What?” he snapped back.
I replied, “The manuscript says, ‘He who reads this manuscript shall suffer.’ I’m a she, not a he.”
“Me too!” said Amanda.
“So what’s your point?” he asked.
“Our point,” Amanda and I chimed in unison, “is that we don’t have to stay here. Only boys and men do. You need to edit your manuscript.”
“That’s a good point,” sighed the caped one. “I guess I’ll have to let you go. But I will change the wording, and if you ever come back…”
“Oh, we won’t,” I assured him.
Amanda and I walked home on shaky knees. “Boy, am I glad we’re girls,” said Amanda.
“We could have been tortured for the rest of our lives.”
When we got home, we immediately asked our parents if they would go trick-or-treating with us next year. “Of course,” they said. “But why?”
“We’ll tell you someday,” said Amanda. “We’ll tell you someday.”