Winners have been selected in the Library’s 9th annual Scary Story Contest.
In the student category, Grace Foster received the $50 first prize for her scary story “The Letter,” and Cailee Sanchez received the $50 first prize for her scary image. The student are and stories are on display at the library.
The adult winners were Bob Kennemer who received first prize for his story “I 8,” and Kenny Arnold who was first prize for his scary poem “Lethe.” The winning entries in the adult category are shown below.
By Kenny Arnold
Clinging to the elm
Clicked at midnight,
Satan’s wind chimes black, unseen,
As my daughter walked asleep
Into the gloom.
Eyes open yet unseeing,
She, like Lady Macbeth, carried a candle
A boy’s from school,
Suave he was,
As smooth as Beelzebub’s lava,
As hot as a boy fiend can be
In teenage years.
And my lovely girl
She walked unseen and unseeing.
The grass beneath her bare feet
Whispered her pain in passing
Yet somewhere the boy was laughing –
Another bruise on a creamy neck.
The river lay in wait
Neither benign nor malignant,
Just the river,
Yet it would be Lethe for my child,
And that boy’s disdain
Would be drowned
And her pain would die.
Yet he would live while she died,
And she did die,
My loving daughter,
The candle first, just a hiss in the night,
Then her steps silently slipping to –
Who has the power to say?
Still, mindless months passed,
Each abrading my heart,
Crushing my mind when I would see
My mind is keen
My blade is sharp.
“’Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ said the Lord.”
By Bob Kennemer
He couldn’t help but notice the decrepit van with the two disheveled old folks inside as it drove past him on Main St. The old van was white, with one of those extended tops, allowing for extra head room. The van was white but it looked like it had had a bad paint job, covering a darker color. It was a Dodge Ram, probably a model from 1998.
But there was something else about this van that bothered him. Maybe because it was like so many other white panel vans used by movie serial killers. Just like the one in Silence of the Lambs. “Hello, Clarice.” Ugh! Still gives him the shivers. Yet, there was more that was just not right. Only the front three windows of the van were clear. All of the side doors, windows, and back windows had been painted or otherwise covered over. It had Texas plates. The locals here notice out of state plates.
But this was laundry day and he had to pack for his trip to California, for which he would depart the next morning. This was not a pleasure trip per say. Sure, he would be in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area and staying with his best friend, but this was not a vacation. Rather he was going to attend a five day program to help agnostics, skeptics, and atheists etc. deal with their drug addiction issues. AA, NA, and other 12 Step Programs just did not resonate with him. He couldn’t get past the whole, “higher spirit” thing. As far as he could tell, there was no such thing as a “spirit” or a “soul.” Not even his drug of choice, morphine helped him to discover his “inner spirit.”
Back at home, he began to load the laundry, hangers, and detergent. “Oh, and don’t forget to bring the Shout!” he told himself. He had just returned from his first bighorn sheep hunting trip. He had saved for years for this trip and applied for tags for the past eight years. Finally, he got one! Gutting and packing out a big game animal is always bloody. But the ram he bagged was just 20 yards below the summit of Trinchera Peak, which rises to 13,065 feet above sea level. It was three miles back to his truck. Of course, the butchering and packaging is also a bloody mess. He had three sets of blood drenched clothes, plus rags, and game bags to clean.
Pulling up to the laundry mat, there was the van. A closer look revealed more dents and rust then he had noticed before. The back doors were pretty banged up, with several dents coming from the inside. There were dark dried stains oozing from below the doors onto the bumpy bumper, with smears caused by fingers. The license plate read, “I 8.”
Hauling in the laundry the old couple greeted him as he struggled through the door. That door, which was hinged way too tight, knocked into his right arm leaving what he knew would be a large bruise. That door always closed in on its patrons, as if forcing them inside. The old lady was small and more frail then she had looked in the van. She had a nasal cannula emerging from her nose. Her oxygen tank rested on the counter, as she turned her voice creaked out, “Hello and good morning to you.” He was still bothered by the evil laundromat door, but was able to muster a, “Hi,” back to her.
The old man was hunched and wore a “Mister Rogers” like sweater with the buttons buttoned up off set. The old man’s neck seemed stiff as he turned his entire body to give a wave hello. Deep blue eyes emerged from his long gray bangs. “We had a lot of trouble with these washers,” said the old man. “We couldn’t get those ones over there to work at all. Ate all of our coins, they did. But we got these to work.” The old lady yelled to him in her shaky voice, “Here are four more quarters.” “I need six!” the old guy exclaimed and had to repeat it three times to, who I assumed was his wife.
On to the laundry. After pouring the detergent and fabric softener into the machines he began with the hard part, spraying Shout! on to the blood stained outfits. “How do you like that stuff, mister?” He turned and was surprised to see the old lady was right behind him as she motioned to his spray bottle. “Well, it seems to do the job,” he replied. “We never liked it,” stated the old man, adding, “It doesn’t always get the blood out. We make our own special mix.”
Having a conversation about stain removers was not on the agenda he thought to himself so he tried to cut it short, “I’m glad that your creation does the job for you,” he replied hoping that was the end of this gibberish. But the old man continued, “Yup, me and the wife came up with our mix almost 30 years ago, when we had our butcher shop down in Dumas.” “Dumas?” the man asked. “Dumas, Texas. We had a shop there for 35 years. There wasn’t nuthin’ we couldn’t cut up,” said the old man. “It was 36 years!” yelled the old woman. He could not help but think ‘Dumb ass’ Texas.
Time to exit stage left he thought, when the old lady asked, “How long do these dryers last?” “They last 45 minutes.” “How long?” she asked again. He had to repeat the answer three more times. The old lady then pointed to one of the large industrial dryers. “How about these. How long?” she asked. “I don’t know. I’ve never used them,” he replied. The old lady looked mad. Really mad.
“Well this one just swallowed eight of my quarters and it doesn’t work!” she exclaimed with an even higher pitched squeal. “Would you please come take a look at it?” she pleaded with a lowering pitiful old lady pouty howl. As he approached the large dryer it was still hot from recent use as the couple shuffled up behind him, arriving just a little too close for comfort. “I hope she doesn’t call me Hansel,” he thought to himself. He pushed the coin return and the eight quarters spilled out. “Try the next one,” he suggested. The old lady smiled, revealing stained and odd shaped teeth.
“You are such a nice young man. Thank-you for helping us. Although we are getting up there in years, we like to travel the country in our van. That means we sometimes get into places where we just don’t know how things work,” explained the old lady. “So, you live in the van?” he asked. “No, we mainly camp out or stay in cheap hotels,” added the old man. “The van holds our clothes, cookware, our belongings, and my gear,” he said. “Gear?” he asked. “I have a mobile knife sharpening business and also work on chainsaws, axes, and such,” explained the old man. Adding, “It gives us a bit more to live on.”
“Maybe some kind of signage on the side of your van would help?” he suggested. “Nah, we like to keep a low profile. We don’t need much. We know how to live off the land and we get a bit of money from Social Security.” “So, where is home?” the man asked. “Home is where we land,” said the old man. “No more Dumas?” the man asked. “We had a falling out there with folks. They got all up in arms with us so we left,” the old lady said interrupting.
“Would you mind helping us bring in a couple of larger loads from the van?” asked the old lady. He was in a rush and still found these too odd, if not downright suspicious, but he relented, “Sure” he said. “The back of the van is open. I’ll hold this door for you, as it seems pretty tight,” said the old man.
He went to the back of the van. There were the drippings he had seen before, but with even more road dust on them. He opened the van and saw that the walls were thickly insulated and had plastic paneling. The van was Spartan, with just two large loads of laundry in the back. And the van was segmented. There was another closed off section between the cab and the back of the van. He slid the large basket of clothes off the rubber mat that covered the floor. His pants leg rubbed against the dirty bumper, revealing a bumper sticker, which he ignored. He needed to get home and pack, plus another fix would help ease his nerves.
The old man held the door as promised. The two thanked him again and noted there was still another load in the van. “That load is a big one. Why don’t you go help him? I’ll get the door,” said the old lady. The two went to get the last load. Once again he saw the bumper sticker but it was still partially covered in dust. It read something like, “It takes a lot of guts to…,” and the rest was covered.
They grabbed the load and it was indeed weighty. He noticed heavily soiled clothing, soiled with blood and more. It appeared that pieces of flesh or perhaps pieces of organs were dried and stuck to the clothing. Were those finger nails? Human finger nails? The old man was being pushy, “Let’s move! This load is too much for me.”
As they approached the door to the laundromat, the old lady was there, holding the door. That stiff door. Just as he began to pass through the door the old lady stepped back, allowing the door to slam into his head and arm. The blow was strong. He fell back onto the porch of the laundromat as the old lady approached with her oxygen tank. That tank landed on his head.
Next he found himself being dragged across the parking lot towards the van. The back of the van. He wanted to swing his arm, the one that was not in pulsing pain, but his head was in a fog. The old man dropped him at the back of the van, his head crunching into the pavement. His vision was in whirl as the old lady grabbed his feet, smiling. He now saw her teeth. They were pointed, as if they had been filed! The old man was in the van leaning over putting a rope around his torso.
The old lady said, “OK, lift on three.” As the two counted to three he saw that the bumper sticker was now fully revealed. It read, “It takes a lot of guts to be a cannibal!” The van door slammed on his head.