Christmas ghost story: Into the Woods

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Once again we’ve been inundated with entries for our Christmas ghost story competition. In the run-up to Christmas we’re publishing the winners and runners-up in the 15-and-under and 16-and-over categories.

Today we feature the winner of the 15-and-under category TANYA FELLAH.

His heart is pounding, loud enough that he almost mistakes the sound for drums. He’s trying to sprint but his leg is hurting from when he slipped on mud before. His lungs burn, caused by walking too long with no breaks, but he couldn’t stop... not now. He’s so close to the cabin that they’re staying in for the Christmas holiday.

He can’t stop.

‘I told you so’, he can just hear his mother saying. He can see her right now – by the fire – hot chocolate in one hand, a romance book in the other, with the Christmas tree sparkling with twinkly lights behind her. She already checked up on him and she won’t check up on him again for a couple more hours, as that was their nightly routine.

But tonight...

Tonight he disobeyed his mother and ran out into the woods. He only did it to spite her as she told him not to. He told her he saw something moving in the woods next to their cabin. She just laughed and told him no one was allowed there apart from them as it’s their private land. However, he knows what he saw.

And here he is now, wishing that he had listened to his mother, wishing he could just burst through the cabin door, not caring if his mother grounded him and shouted at him because at least then he would be safe. Instead he’s in the middle of the woods, trying to run from something, human or animal, he has no idea.

There’s a snap of a twig, cracking like a chicken bone. His heart jumps, there’s a lump in his throat, tears come to his eyes, but he keeps on moving, he has to keep moving. He’s so close.

Movement! On his left, he saw it. A whimper escapes his mouth, he moves faster.

He’s near the cabin now. He can see the warm glow of the light through the thin curtains. He’s strolling faster, breathing harsher, he has to get to the cabin, he has to get back to his mother.

‘Move faster!’ He’s screaming at himself, bile is rising in his throat. No! Throw up later! Be strong now!

Almost there... he’s almost there.

Pain in back; face smashed into the ground; breath knocked out of him, he doesn’t understand what’s happening at first, but his back, his back feels heavy, like a weight on top of him (an extremely heavy weight).

Someone tackled him, he realised suddenly. He got dragged to his feet and turned around, he was looking directly at...

‘SANTA!’ The 12-year-old boy yelled, laughing as his younger sister jumped in fright. ‘That story is wrong and... and stupid!’ The little girl screamed, with angry tears forming in her eyes. ‘Santa never hurts people! He makes them happy! And I’m telling mum!’ She screamed, scrambling out of bed to get to the door.

Panicking the boy leapt out of bed and grabbed his sister pulling her into a sideways hug. ‘Ok... ok! I’m sorry, ok? That story was wrong and... stupid,’ he crinkled his nose in displeasure at that. He thought that his story was cool and scary. ‘How about I tell you another story? A nice story about Santa this time.’

She stared at him closely, as if looking for how sincere he was being. Nodding her head, she got into her bed again and listened to him talk about Santa, and his magical elves, and how he gives people joy.

After the story finished the girl went to sleep with a cheerful smile on her face while her brother scowled at all the soppy nonsense he had had to utter to make her happy so he wouldn’t get told off by his parents again.

My story was much better the first time, the boy thought grumpily before going to his bedroom in a mood.

Once he was inside his room he trudged over to the window to close the curtains and saw a flash of light hit him in the face. Squinting his eyes he tried to look at which direction the light was coming from and saw that it was up in the sky.

It was Santa on his sleigh, he had all his reindeer and what seemed to be a sack full of presents... but... the sack looked like it was moving!

The boy’s eyes followed the sleigh until he couldn’t see it any more. He stood there in shock, then he abruptly shook his head and closed the curtain with more force than necessary. He did so well at telling stories that he actually started to believe them himself.

I’m probably just really tired, he reasoned with himself as he slipped into bed, quietly drifting off to sleep, and forgetting about what he saw entirely...

INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR

Tanya Fellah is the ghost story competition winner in the 15-and-under category with her entry Into The Woods.

The 15-year-old, who goes to Crookhorn College, wanted to write a Christmas story with a twist.

‘I’ve never done a horror Christmas story before,’ she said.

‘I wanted to write a story that was completely different so it would surprise peple that were reading it.’

She started thinking about her storyline during her English lesson and the story formed from there.

She added: ‘It was hard to start off with but once I got going it was quite easy.

‘I like supernatural stories that get me on the edge of my seat.’

It’s a double celebration for the teenager, who also celebrated her 15th birthday last Saturday.

‘It’s made me quite happy,’ said Tanya.

‘I just did it for a bit of fun, I didn’t think I would win.’

She wins a £50 book voucher to spend at The Hayling Island Bookshop.

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