‘Chose your own doom’ contest deadline Thursday

In its third year, popular Ghost story contest returns for kids to finish one of these ghost stories for a chance to win local prizes

Think about when you gathered around a campfire, huddled in sleeping bags and flashlights shining underneath your chin. You were sitting friends and trying to see who could get scared the easiest.

Everyone had a great ghost story to tell or at least enjoyed listening to them. No matter how elaborate or how realistic, the story, if told well, made even the bravest shudder.

The Lake Today asks Lake Area students to channel your inner ghost storyteller and finish one of these two stories.

One is written for children grades kindergarten through fourth; the other is written for students fifth through eighth grades. Each is marked for appropriate age group. Submit your ending to the story to The Lake Today. This year, six local businesses – McDonald’s of Versailles, Chili’s in Osage Beach, Sonic in Versailles, Stonecrest Book and Toy in Osage Beach, Hy-Vee in Osage Beach and Miner Mike’s in Osage Beach – have contributed numerous prizes such as candy, free happy meals or kids meals, books, journals and notebooks and attraction prizes for the top three winners in each category. That’s right, this year, we will have first, second and third place winners in each age division.

Also, The Lake Area Writer’s Guild will also judge the contest for us this year. This group meets quarterly and offers helpful tips, encouragement and promotion of local authors and writers in the Lake of the Ozarks region. They are a subgroup of the Lake Arts Council and will have a creative writing workshop coming up later this winter. The guild’s meeting is open to anyone who shares a passion for writing and reading. All writers, published and unpublished, are welcome and encouraged to attend. Come share your interests and goals with other writers. Tell the organizers what kinds of programs you’d like to see, and how they can best serve your writing goals. For more information, contact Bob Mellberg at 573-365-9670 or rmellberg@charter.net, or Elizabeth Simons at 573-317-1607 or wordcrafter11@yahoo.com.

Last year, in the Ghost Story Contest’s premier, we had 30-plus entries, and hope to see even more kids face their fears and scare our readers for a chance to win some great prizes. So, “choose your own doom” and dare to win.

How to enter

These stories, as they are written here, are PG-rated. We don’t want anything that any reader cannot stomach. So please, keep it eerie, but keep it clean. Write your ending to reach no more than 550 words total. Parents and/or teachers can assist the kids with writing, however, the concept to end the story should come from the child.

The winning finish to each ghost story will be published in the Oct. 31, Halloween, issue of The Lake Today in our Splash section, along with the author’s names.

Send your written story to editor@thelaketoday.com. You can put it in a Word document or in the email itself. You can also submit a typed version via our mailing address at The Lake Today, PO Box 1387, Lake Ozark, MO 65049 or fax it to 573-365-2344.

You have until Thursday, Oct. 25 by 5 p.m. to submit all entries. Any entry received after that time will be discarded. Also, all entries will be posted at www.thelaketoday.com.

For more information, contact Samantha Edmondson 573-365-2827 or same@thelaketoday.com.

The rise of Merlin

(For children grades K-4)

The dark, cluttered laboratory was filled with old scientific equipment. Big machines with levers and gauges lined the back of the room and in the corner were dusty piles of incomprehensible failed experiments that stunk horribly. An operating table with chain restraints was stationed in the middle and bits of animals and people preserved in formaldehyde were in glass containers scattered on a shelf.

Dr. Bumbledorf reached for his tape recorder out of his white lab coat. “Date: Thirty-first of October. Experiment number: 742 … Mwuhahahahaha,” he roared.

The doctor sat on a tall chair pulled up to the countertop. He slouched over the counter with an eyedropper in one of his hands.

“One … two … three,” he said, ever so carefully squeezing the dropper. Tiny drops of blue-green liquid fell in to the test tube he had in his other hand. With every drop, a puff of smoked occurred.

He clumped over to the monster-making machine and swirled the blue-green substance around in the tube. “It’s got to work this time,” he said talking to himself. Doctor Bumbledorf then dumped the liquid from the test tube into the top of the machine. He pulled all of the levers to the left and then stared at the machine and scratched his head.

The machine started making a rattling sound and the gauges on the front started to move. “Mwuhahahahaha,” the doctor chuckled. “It will be my scariest one yet.”

All of a sudden it sounded like the something exploded in the apparatus. Smoke started bellowing out of it and a whistle blew from the top. Dr. Bumbledorf’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Finished! Come to Papa,” he said.

The smoke was so thick that the doctor could barely see an inch in front of his own face, although he proceeded to take his newest creation out of the machine. He opened the door and sparks shot every which way.

Dr. Bumbledordf carried his four-foot creature over to the operating table and chained his arms and legs to the table. He stood back and raised one eyebrow as he looked over his monster. “It’s perfect!”

The beast had blue-green skin and didn’t have hair anywhere on his scaly body. His yellow teeth were so long and sharp he couldn’t close his mouth so drool started to fall down his chin. He stared back at his creator with his beady black eyes and started to make hissing noises. He smelled human flesh and he wanted a snack.

“I will call you … Merlin,” the doctor said to his monster. The doctor moved carefully towards Merlin and jabbed a needle into his arm. This made the monster feel calm and he didn’t seem to care that he was being hooked up to wires and monitors.

Dr. Bumbledorf pulled a little black remote out of his desk drawer and started to press one of the buttons. Immediately the beast jerks upward and then lets out a terrifying yelp.

The doctor reached for his recorder and said, “Subject seems to be experiencing discomfort … Mwuhahahahaha,” he chuckled.

He flips the switch again and again giggling as the monster screeched. Finally he stopped and decided to go upstairs in case he had any trick-or-treaters at his door this year. “Sweet dreams my little monster,” he said as he walked up the stairs.

The young monster knew he needed to escape the mad scientist’s laboratory before morning if he didn’t want to end up like the other failed experiments in the corner. Merlin concentrated really hard and then a laser beam shot from his black eyes and cut through the metal chain restraints.

He quickly escaped through the air conditioning vents. “Now it’s time to taste human flesh,” he sighed.

Merlin blended right in as he walked the streets on Halloween night. He trailed a small group of young children and even went up to the houses and got candy with them. But the hungry monster wanted a big feast and was hoping to stumble upon a bigger group of children.

As Merlin and the group of children were walking up to the next house, a little boy dressed as Freddie Krueger turned around and pointed to the scary looking beast.

“Oh dude, that is a killer costume. It looks so real,” the boy said pulling up his mask. “Come with us and may be you can win the costume contest at my best friend’s party later tonight …

‘How to become a vampire’

(For Students grades 5-8)

Ivan smiled at his clever rendering on his notebook of a vampire preparing to bite his history teacher’s neck.

He gently closed his eyes, thinking about the possibility of vampires coming to his town. “I wonder what would happen? What would I do? Would I be the hero and kill them? Or would I join up with them and become the leader of the pack?” Ivan drifted off into the center of the small Missouri town square facing off against at least 20 who were staring him down, unaware that his arm was ready to push his notebook and U.S. government history text book onto the floor.

“Ivan!” Mr. Barkley shrieked, as Ivan nearly fell off his desk chair to the sound of his history teacher’s voice and the noise his books made hitting the concrete floor. “Would you like to come to the front of the class, please?” His seventh grade classmates snickered and giggled as he slowly walked to the chalkboard.

“Since you are so interested in our class discussion about U.S. presidents, I think you would be a great candidate for an impromptu political debate,” Mr. Barkley said. Ivan’s eyes widened, and he accidentally released a sigh, knowing this did not please his teacher.

“I will be your opponent, and you will be the incumbent president. We are both asked to talk about the issue of unemployment. Since you are the current president of the U.S., Mr. Riley, you have the floor,” Mr. Barkley said, seeing the class also awaken to hear what Ivan was going to say.

Ivan knew he was going to embarrass himself, staring at his feet for a few seconds. “Unemployment … it is a big issue in our country,” he said, hearing some kids already starting to giggle. “If I get voted in … I mean re-elected as president … I would … uh … would … create more jobs to … uh …” Then the classroom bell rang.

This time, Mr. Barkley emitted a sigh, and then reminded the class of their term paper on campaigning for U.S. president due the next day.

“Ivan? Stay for just a minute, please,” he said, as Ivan gathered his stuff and stood by his desk.

“You are a smart kid. I have talked with all your teachers. You are getting high B’s and A’s in all your other classes. But you are barely passing mine,” Mr. Barkley said. “I am willing to give you some extra credit to help bump you up to a high C or even B. However, this term paper of yours needs to be near perfect. I know you can do it and I am here to answer any questions you may have, OK?”

Ivan nodded his head and watched as Mr. Barkley mouthed, OK, getting ready to sit down at his desk. Ivan turned to walk out the door and his notebook slipped out of his hand landing right in front of Mr. Barkley. His teacher gazed at the vampire drawing, and then gave a half-cocked eyebrow raise to Ivan but with a hint of a smile. Ivan’s embarrassment broke into amazement at his teacher’s reaction.

“Creative and it’s historically accurate,” Mr. Barkley said, handing back the notebook. Ivan gave a half-smile back and walked out the door, surprised.

That night after dinner and a good two hours of video game action, Ivan knew he had to sit down at his computer and start researching his term paper. He decided he would try to impress Mr. Barkley by talking about unemployment in the paper, hoping to score back some of the “brownie points” he lost during class.

The Google search engine came up, and he thought, “Well let’s start with the easiest search, ‘How to become a U.S. president.’” Ivan began to type the words “How to become” into the computer and realized an interesting subject.

“Huh, the top hit is ‘How to become a vampire,’” Ivan said. He paused for a moment, knowing he should just continue with his original research. He glanced at the clock, which read, “8:30 p.m.” He stared at the words once more, his mouse pacing over “vampire.” “Well, this won’t take more than five minutes to look at, then I’ll get back to it.”

He clicked on the search, seeing a variety of websites pop up with instructions, Q & A blogs and listings of spells and incantations to become one of the blood thirsty undead. Ivan read a few of the blogs, then clicked “back” to see what else was on there. In doing so, a pop-up ad showed up on his desktop that said, “So you want to become a vampire? Click Here!” Ivan looked at the black box and red lettering, and decided to give it a shot.

After clicking on it, a video popped up and Ivan pressed play, putting on his headphones and turning up his computer speakers. After making the video full screen, Ivan gazed at the video with nothing showing for a few seconds. Then words faded in that said, “Become a vampire in one minute.” Ivan smiled and watched as the words faded. Then the video looked like it went dead, with television “snow” flashing in the video box. Ivan frowned and hit his keyboard a few times … nothing.

Within seconds, the screen went to black again, but Ivan could hear what sounded like heavy breathing through the speaker. A picture popped up, and he saw himself sitting at his desk staring into his computer screen. He looked down at the video control panel and it was playing. He waved at the screen, seeming himself wave back. Then, he saw a dark figure standing in front of his bedroom door. He turned around, not seeing anything there. As he turned back, the figure in the video was standing close to his shoulder and he could not only hear the breathing through the speakers but also feel it on the top of his head. Ivan shuddered and went to hit the stop button on the video, but suddenly the room went pitch black …

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