2021 Youth Ghost Story Contest Winners and Honorable Mentions

The second year of the Library's Youth Ghost Story Contest brought out Kansas City’s spookiest tales of ghosts, ghouls, and witches! In September, over 100 kids in the metro area submitted their original tales. These are the first-place winners and honorable mention selections in the 10-13 and 14-18 age categories. We thank all the caring adults who helped youth with the submission process. We enjoy seeing our young people build their creativity and writing skills and can’t wait for you to read these wickedly scary stories. Happy Halloween!

Content Warning: Some of these stories contain graphic depictions of gore and blood.

Ages 10-13

First-Place Winner

The 13th Floor by Reagan, age 11

Honorable Mention

The Cuckoo Clock by Finnegan, age 12

When spring cleaning started for David’s family, the last thing they’d expect to find was an antique cuckoo clock. David found it odd that he, nor his parents, had seen it before. When they had finished for the day, his father went down to the basement and returned to the foyer with a box of nails and a hammer. David’s father held the nail up against the wall. KA-THUNK, KA-THUNK, KA-THUNK, the hammer pounded. David flinched at each strike of the hammer.

As soon as David’s father had the cuckoo clock set up, David walked up to the clock to take a closer look. The dark brown had a red tint, and seemed to be crumbling around the edges, as though someone had held a match up against it. The numbers seemed smudged, and the hands rusted. He heard gears grinding, and a small blue bird popped out from the door at the front, a distorted melody coming from the mechanism.

The clock seemed interesting at first to David, who wondered how such an old piece of equipment produced sound. It quickly became annoying though, as he could hear it clicking from anywhere in the house. And, most annoying of all, that little melody. The only ones who didn’t seem bothered by the clock were David’s parents. They said he was exaggerating, making stuff up because he didn’t like it. David always thought of denying it, but what they said was half true. David did indeed hate the little clock.

Then, the trouble around the house started. At first it was minor things, like someone dropping a glass, or David being unable to sleep. Then things became more dire, like David dozing off in class, or that he kept feeling a prickling sensation, as if someone was watching him. The most disturbing thing, though, was that he kept hearing the clicking off the clock. TICK. TOCK. TICK. TOCK. David heard it everywhere. At school, in the shower, on walks in the park, the clicking even worked its way into his dreams. David felt like there was something terribly wrong with the clock, so one day, while both of his parents were out of the house, he decided to take the clock apart.

He unhooked the clock from the nail and took out the screws. He carefully lifted the cover up and set it down on the coffee table. David peered inside and gasped. The only pieces that were in there were the axle that held the clock hands and a small wooden box that was nailed together. David puzzled how this was possible, but put the cover back on. He considered telling his parents, but they would probably scold him for taking it apart without permission.

In the weeks that followed, David became sleep deprived and paranoid. He would flinch any time he heard the melody play. His grades dropped from A’s and B’s to C’s and D’s. The words "time," "clock," and "bird" made David clench his fist and grit his teeth. He had talked to the school counselor, but she had given him a look of suspicion that said, “What are you, crazy?” When David could sleep, it was far worse than his waking hours.

In his nightmares, David would dream of an old man who worked a wooden cuckoo clock, using his pet bird as a model. David would always awaken in a cold sweat, heart pounding. On more than one occasion, David would hear raspy breathing that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at once. The last large development would happen two months later, unbeknownst to everyone who knew David.

On June twentieth, after an exhausting day of school and another bad grade on a test, David stepped into his room to start doing his homework. On the wall next to his bed, gouged into the plaster were the words: TIME’S UP. David turned around to face a creature that was not quite a bird, but resembled a feathered robin chick, and the same old man from his dreams. As David stared at the monster before him, he could see that the ticking was coming from the creature itself, whose neck vertebrae rotated as it stared David down, and raising both front clubbed legs, brought them down into David’s heart.


The ghost of the old man from David’s dream stared down at the still body of what was once a middle school boy. He shook his head sadly and faded away. The creature that had caused the death took one last look at David and it, too, faded from visibility. David’s body was dragged into the closet, never to be seen again.

Honorable Mention

The Locket Sisters by Emma, age 11

I was walking and saw a girl in shaggy clothes. She looked about my age. Her hair was long, blond, and looked as if it had not been cared for in months. I searched in my pocket for some change. I found nothing. She was shivering, and I felt so very sad for her. I took off my coat and gave it to her. She looked at me. Then she took it and ran away.

A large cloud of fog fell over me. A floating shape emerged from the fog. Within half of a minute, I could clearly see the shape was a girl. And she was wearing my coat over her torn up clothes. Her hair looked like a rat’s nest, but it was glowing pale white. She started to come towards me. I didn’t know what to do. I ran. Oh, I ran. I ran faster than I ever ran before. I looked back and she was not there. I turned around and there she was, standing in front of me!

I only saw her and our breath clouds in the cold air. She floated forward. I stepped back. She started to come closer, more and more. Without thinking, I ran to an old shed. It was falling apart, and there were no lights inside. I was desperate.

So, I went in.

The door closed behind me, but I thought it was just the wind. I walked through the small shed and was amazed at how old it was. I looked around and saw another door that was a quarter open.

I went in the smaller, dark room. A shape was in the corner. I went closer. I got close enough to see it was a coffin. I stared at this dirty, dusty, brown coffin. Then I opened it. There was a girl laying in the coffin. She looked like me, almost exactly alike. She was wearing my locket!

I grabbed at my neck and pulled off my own locket. I opened it. The photos were all there and looked normal, the same as always. I looked back at the corpse. The outside of the locket was identical to mine. I wondered what was inside. I grabbed the locket off the corpse and ran out of the shed.

I went back to my house and fell asleep in bed exhausted. I woke up around 3 a.m. The corpse was floating in my room! No, it was a ghost. It was a ghost of the girl I saw in the coffin.

I made a sound, almost a wheeze. My sister Abagail woke up and grabbed my arm.

She took me to our safe room. I told her what happened and showed her the two lockets.

Abagail started to sob. She said the ghost was our sister.

Honorable Mention

The Typewriter by Maren, age 12

My name is Nancy Woodman. I’m 37 now, and this story happened a long time ago when I was 12 years old. If you're 12 now, don’t do what I did. You will regret it every day of your life like I do. The date was October 3, 1996. It was my birthday, so my family and I all went to Wendy’s. 

"Why does Nancy get to go to Wendy’s on her stupid birthday, and I don't?!" My older sister Natalie was really mad for whatever reason. I know that 16-year-olds throw tantrums sometimes. At the time, I didn’t get why she couldn't understand that I was mom’s favorite.

"You said you didn’t want to do that. You wanted to stay home on your birthday," my parents said, trying to calm her down. 

"Well, maybe I want to do that now," she said as she stormed away.     

I was obsessed with antiques at the time, so my parents decided to get me a typewriter for my birthday. “Oh my gosh, I’ve been wanting this for so long. How’d you know?” I loved it. I thought it was the best birthday present ever. “It's all you ever talk about,” my dad said. Little did I know that my life would change forever that night. Before going to bed, I went to the typewriter, which we decided to keep in my dad's office. I tried turning it on. It was quiet for a moment. Then all of a sudden, a loud roaring noise came from the typewriter. It filled the house with fear. “What the heck was that!? A hair dryer?” my mom asked. I went to bed that night with a look of terror on my face. Slowly I fell asleep. 

I woke up, and it was still dark outside. I looked at my clock, and it was 2:34 a.m. A noise was coming from down the hall of someone typing on the typewriter. I crept down the hallway to my dad’s office. The door creaked open, and nobody was there. I walked in, and all of a sudden, the typewriter started typing. "Hello, Nancy," it typed. 

I screamed in horror. My family came running into the office. 

"What are you doing in the office at 2:41 in the morning?" my mom asked.

"The typewriter, it typed itself!"

They didn’t believe me. They looked at the paper, and nothing was there. 

"You're going back to bed now." she said as she was pushing me out of the room. 

I woke up a few hours later to the smell of smoke and fire. Knowing there was a fireplace in the office, I ran to investigate, but at the same time, it was still freezing in the house. I opened the door, and there my dad was, sitting in the chair, typing on the typewriter, with his eyes wide open. 

"Dad? What are you doing up so early?"

Answer: The typewriter started typing. 

"Hello again, Nancy."

"How do you know my name?" I said. The time was 4:57 a.m. 

We’ve been watching you for a while now."


"Every night when your parents are gone and don’t have a shift. They were with me." It typed that out on the piece of paper. 

I looked at the typewriter with fear on my face. Then all of a sudden, my mom walked in with her eyes wide open, like my dad. 

I yelled at her, "Mom! Mom! Are you okay?"

No answer. I wanted to run out of the room, but then as I was about to, the door slammed in my face and locked. I looked around trying to figure out what to do. I saw a phone. I ran to it as soon as I could and did the unthinkable. I dialed 9-1-1.

"Nine-one-one. What’s your emergency?"

I couldn’t speak. I was frozen. 

"Hello?" she said. 

I hung up. I didn’t know what to do. I looked at my mom, then my dad. I knew what I had to do. 

I yelled for my sister, "Natalie!"

She came running. "What!!?"

"Help me! Help me! The typewriter is controlling Mom and Dad!"

In the midst of what was happening, I turned around and saw the fireplace, lit with flames. I panicked, so I grabbed the typewriter and threw it in the fireplace. It burnt to ashes. As it was though, the noise of typing keys started going faster and faster and faster until it stopped. It was quiet for a moment. Then, BOOM!!!!! 

The fire rose out of the fireplace. My mom dropped to the floor. Dad fell out of his chair. They were motionless. Then my sister barged in with a look of terror on her face. Then the fireplace started talking. 

"You will pay for this!" it said.

We called the police as fast as we could to see if it was a prank. They said there was no trace of anybody. They took my parents to the hospital. They were very sick. They were really sick. They still suffer today. The house we lived in was destroyed. Our minds were forever damaged, and we can’t forget the memory. That typewriter wasn’t just a typewriter.

That typewriter was a demon. …

Ages 14 -18

First-Place Winner

Emmie’s Diary by Shaia, age 16

Honorable Mention

I Found You by Amber, age 17

Mud squelched as her brown, bare feet hit the ground. Bleeding muddy feet, pounding their way as the legs stretched out as far as possible. Chocolate, cut, scraped legs that pumped away underneath the torso. Hazel, lacerated, heaving torso. The clothes on the torso were torn and in ribbons. There were welts and lash marks all over the torso. The torso retched as it tried to breathe, terror bunching in the shoulders. Dark, long, scratched arms pump to drive the momentum for the rest of the body to follow. Bronze skin, ragged hair, trembling lips, skin rubbed raw, and wide, wide eyes. Dark brown eyes filled with fear, dominated by terror.

She flung her head back to see if it was following her. She saw no one, heard no one. She turned her head to look forward and screamed. She skidded to a stop and fell to the forest floor. Mud splattered her clothes. It tilted its head at her.

Why are you frightened, child? She heard his mind speak to hers. She began crawling backwards as fast as she could, in an effort to get away from it.

Come near, child. I will keep you safe. Her eyes darted around frantically and landed on a bunch of bushes.

Her breath quick and irregular, heart rate above the clouds, she struck desperately for the bushes, crunching leaves and leaving tracks in the mud. She threw up some leaves and dirt behind her in an attempt to shield herself and to discombobulate the thing chasing her. She finally reached the bushes and hid, quivering with fright. She heard crunching leaves as the thing walked about, looking for her.

Come out, child. Come out, come out, wherever you are.

She shivered as she felt the mind-talk touch the tip of her mind. The crunching came closer and closer, her breathing getting harder and harder. Then, it stopped. Everything stopped. She heard nothing, not even the birds singing or squirrels chittering. Her breath caught in her throat. She kept her body completely still as she strained her ears to hear someone, something, anything. It was dead silent. Her eyes glanced up at a gap in the bush. She saw the forest. Then, a white glistening surface slid into view, covering the hole. It stared at her, seeming to smile without a mouth.

I found you.

A month later they had given up. The mother cried and her husband held her as they came back from searching, empty-handed. Their little girl had been home alone, and she ran away from the house. They didn’t know what had made her run away, to possibly have died. Then, they checked the camera footage. Their front porch camera held the last recording. They saw their small daughter run out of the house, barefoot and screaming. Then, they saw a figure, walking out of the house after the girl. It continued until it reached the edge of the forest and then stopped, turning around for the camera to get a full view. A thin, suited, long-armed, abnormally tall figure stood, as if taunting them to come after her again. Its white face was turned toward the camera, looking at it without eyes. It smiled its bone-chilling no-mouth smile. Then, the camera went dark. They looked at each other with fear in their eyes. They knew their little Amara was gone.

He had struck again.

Honorable Mention

Fear Will Kill Us All by River, age 14

Most horror stories start out with a dark and stormy night. With blood rivers running through haunted forests. But this isn’t most horror stories. Today, the sun shines overhead. A gentle breeze sweeps through our victims' street. A lovely day, 70 degrees or so. A few streaks of clouds cut through the glowing blue sky.

We’ll start at the end. There’s no murderer, no maniac, no psychopath. Yet Maddie lies, dead on the ground, heart having beat for the last time mere minutes ago.

Before her last breath her sister, Cecelia, spoke to her, begging, pleading, but Maddie couldn’t hear her.

"Please Maddie, you can’t be gone. You just … can’t! We were going to travel the world together! I’d drive and you’d stick your head out the roof, blasting music! I would've gotten so annoyed but let you do it anyway. Just come back, I’ll let you ride with the windows down and you can crank the music up as loud as you want. It’s ok, you’re safe now. Just come back."

But of course, Maddie wasn’t safe.

Before her sister, it was her mother that appeared by her side, sobbing into her chest. Before her mother was her father, stone faced and pale. Before that, a neighbor found her, surrounded by a field of daisies that had most certainly not been there before.

Before that, she had been running. Nothing was chasing her, but Maddie was most certainly running from something. Her heartbeat pulsed in her ears, faster and faster, until it burst. Her heart burst.

Before that Maddie had been at the park. She’d been hanging from the monkey bars, afraid she would fall, but she didn’t.

That was the beginning of Maddie’s demise. After that she took off running, like her life depended on it. Past the pond, towards the edge of the park. She would never make it that far. Her pulse beat in her ears, getting louder and louder until her heart burst. Maddie collapsed, dead. In the last beat of her heart, daisies sprung up around her, filling the hollow footsteps she had left in the grass... Not even seconds later her neighbor found her. He ran to get a doctor, but it was no use.

Maddie had departed. First came her father. Then her mother. Her sister.

Fear is what killed Maddie.

They found a note, tucked in her back pocket. Crinkled paper, a hastily written note. Her last sentence, cut off by her death. The last word, written in her blood:

Hello Mom, Dad, Cecelia, and whoever else reads this. I am running. I can’t tell you why or from what. But I am going to die. You’ll never find the cause of death, just me, lying in a deathbed of daisies. I’m sorry I’ll never go on that road trip with you, Cecelia. I’m sorry, Mom, that you’ll never be able to teach me to sew now. I’m sorry, Dad, that you’ll never be able to teach me to drive. And know I’ll always lov—RUN

Fear killed Maddie. With her last heartbeat, her blood, she wrote one last word. Run. But why?

Fear killed Maddie. She dashed across an open field before dropping dead, slain by terror. In the echoes of her footsteps daisies sprung up, rising from the ashes.

Fear killed Maddie. They’ll never truly understand how she died. But written in ink on her death certificate, under cause of death, is one word. Fear.

Fear killed Maddie. And she told you to run. Because he’s coming. Can you hear him? Silent footsteps, tiptoeing across the floor. Can you hear him? A hissing screech as he breathes in and out. Fear is coming.

He’s coming.

We’re coming.

I am coming.

No one will ever find Maddie’s true last words. The ones etched on her palms, engraved on her heart, running through her veins. They can’t see the final phrase, the last thing Maddie ever thought. The last thing she ever said. No one knows the words that died on her lips with her last heartbeat,

"Fear will kill us all."