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Halloween Writting Contest Entry

The following story was the winning entry in The Wanderer's third annual Halloween Writing Contest.

"The Crow's Nest" by Hayleigh Dumas

Willow Ardane stood on the rickety front porch of the Victorian era mansion watching her parents leave. They were heading out for the evening leaving Willow alone on Halloween night. The rain began to fall as Willow closed the door and stood in the hall, her stomach turning.

The house was silent. The only light was cast from the chandelier in the dinning room. Willow became anxious. She really wanted to explore the tower by the dining room that her parents called the crow's nest. The door had been left untouched since they had moved in. It was the only room in the house that her parents had forbade her from entering. Willow felt reckless with desire and was nervous with anticipation. She made her way towards the door thinking about what she was about to do. She had never broken one of her parents' rules before, but the temptation was too strong to ignore.

She stood at the door. Her shaking hand grasped the handle and turned it. But to no avail - the door was locked. Without a thought, she reached into her woven braid and pulled out a hair pin. The pin slid into the lock with ease and the door opened, the hinges groaning with age. With a quiver in her hand, she placed the pin into her pocket and started up the steep stairs.

Almost immediately, she could smell the must in the air and dampness of the aged wood. The room was circular with browning wallpaper and chipped black trim around the windows. The only occupants of the room were a wardrobe, and rocking chair, and a small table. As Willow looked harder, she could also see an antique doll with its hands elevated towards the ceiling, its eyes burning bright green against the yellowing of her face. Spider webs wove their way threw the spokes of the chair and hung from every corner. The window allowed no moonlight to be shown through because of the abundance of tall trees outside the sill. In one window, the pane had broken. The skeletal arms of the trees snaked their way into the room giving the musty room a faint smell of maple leaves.

Willow's heart skipped a few beats and felt as if the room were closing in on her. She was becoming so overcome with fear that she wanted to run, but the wardrobe caught her attention. It sat shoved against the wall at an odd angle, its top lightly touching the ceiling. With care, she opened its heavy doors and looked in. To her surprise, a few dresses still sat on hangers waiting to be worn. They were long with frayed hems and a brown color that matched the room. Lace hung from the neck and sleeves like decorative jewelry and some had the soft outline from the one who had worn them last. The dresses ruffled and whispered with the passing breeze. They seemed so delicate. Willow reached out and touched a dress that was still full with the outline of a human body as if it had just been taken off. It fell off the hanger and into her hand. As chills ran down her spine, she shook the lace dress to the ground. The wind began to blow beating the trees on the windowpane and giving off sounds of howling coyotes. Every hair on the back of her neck rose. The doll had seemingly turned its head its eyes fell on her. The smile on her lips never faltered and her hair rose in the breeze. As she turned back to close the wardrobe doors, the rocker started to rock with full force through the still air. Her hands reached for it and she grasped the arm. Instead of slowing, it tipped and fell to the ground. Cobwebs filled the air. Willow covered her mouth to hold in her scream. Spiders thrown from the chair were climbing up her arm. She screamed and shook her hand repeatedly but the sensation continued. She ran for the door, stumbling down the stairs. She grabbed for the knob to escape the horror. The knob was cool, the brass biting her hand. She tried to turn it but it wouldn't budge. It was locked from the outside.

Willow cried out in anguish; her whole body froze. She needed to get out but she faced the realization she couldn't. She kicked and screamed, her knuckles bloodied when she finally stopped. From atop the stairs she thought she heard the slight laughing of a child. It seemed to mock her. It got closer and closer until she looked up and saw a small figure sitting in the door way. It showed a silhouette by the faint light.

She gasped, her hand flying to her mouth to muffle her impending screams. All she could do was close her eyes. When she opened them again, it was gone. It sounded like something was moving behind her. The unknown being was scraping against the door and was brushing against her legs. She ran up the stairs tripping over her own feet and falling to the ground. The wind was screaming, rain pelting the glass. The trees beat wildly and caused the glass to break the remaining windows. Willow covered her face with her hands and fell to the floor overcome with fear. The wardrobe was quivering. Willlow narrowly escaped as the wardrobe crashed causing the entire floor to fall out from under her.

She was falling. She was plunging into darkness. The light from which she came was slowly fading. Out of the darkness something covered her face and tightened around her head. It never let go until she hit the ground. Her hands struggled with it until she couldn't breath....

Mr. and Mrs. Ardane came home to an empty house. Willow wasn't anywhere. Mr.Ardane entered the dinning room and the crow's nest door stood open. The crow's nest had claimed another.