Local students in kindergarten through high school were invited to write an ending to the Halloween tale we introduced here in September. The response was great!

We received 61 submissions, including batches from several classrooms. The winners are Iris Holdren, a fourth-grader at Greensboro Day School; James Haviland, an eighth-grader at Canterbury School; and Morgan Cardille, a 10th-grader at New Garden Friends School.

We’re including their winning stories here, along with submitted illustrations, and you can find highlights from other stories inside on page C4.

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The tale begins with Clint, J.J. and Clint’s dog, Muffin, heading home after trick or treating. J.J. scanned the horizon, looking for aliens his brother had predicted would land tonight. Clint tells him “That’s ridiculous.” Then a bright light — brighter than any streetlight — appeared over their heads ...

“Holy cow!” J.J. squeaked in shock. Three strange women had just appeared in front of them. But they weren’t really women at all, they were like shadow embodied, and their eyes were bright purple, almost floating balls of light.

Clint and J.J. hid behind a tree while one of the woman-things spoke. “Coven, we are here at lasssst. I ssssmell two ssssoulssss right now. Get them by ssssissssterssss!”

The other two advanced toward J.J. and Clint. Clint ran behind a tree, but J.J. was frozen to the spot. They caught him! One of them reached into his forehead and grabbed what looked like a ball of light and J.J. collapsed.

“The first ssssoul issss yourssss, misssstressss!” she said tossing it to her leader, who swallowed the light whole.

Her eyes became bright. “Now to get the other one. Get him and bring him to me.”

With no weapons, Clint did the only thing he could think to do — he threw a piece of candy at the leader just as it spoke. The candy flew right into its mouth. It choked a little, then swallowed.

“What issss thissss?” It tasssstessss exactly like ssssoulssss.” Clint quavered and spoke “C-candy. It’s j-just candy.”

“Where do you get thissss ... kandy?”

“People hand it out on Halloween. Wh-which is today,” Clint stammered.

The leaders spoke thoughtfully, “If we get thissss ‘kandy’ every year on ‘Halloween’ we won’t need your ssssoulssss. I shall give your friend’ssss ssssoul back for the kandy. Deal?”

“D-deal!” Clint replied.

“Your kandy then!”

Clint gave her his basket and she spit out the bright light right into J.J., waking him suddenly. Clint hugged him and when he turned around, the women were gone.

Clint and J.J. stared at the shape over their heads in horror, as it hovered right next to them and landed on the ground. It was a colossal metal sphere the size of a house. It was silver throughout most of the structure, but it had what looked like solar panels spread around the formation. The two boys only watched, paralyzed with fear as a hatch on a section of the sphere opened.

Green smoke billowed out of the structure as the platform slowly made its way to the ground. The boys watched as a shape made itself visible from the top of the platform. Clint squinted to make it out, because it was dark outside and the light from the sphere had just turned off. Suddenly, a little ball rolled out. It was blue in color, and it could fit in one hand.

J.J. picked it up. “What is this thing?” he wondered aloud as he studied the object. An eye and a mouth opened up on the ball. J.J. screamed, and dropped it.

“Hey! It’s OK. It’s just me, a friendly ball. Want to come into the ship?”

“My mommy told me not to follow strangers unless a parent is with me,” Clint said with a tone of pride.

“Well, we have candy, and you can have some if you come in …” The ball grinned with his two teeth.

Clint thought for a moment. What if the candy wasn’t good?

“What kind of candy is it?” the two boys asked in unison, with suspicion in their voices.

“We have whoppers and Jaw breakers,” he said confidently, as if he knew those would get them in the ship.

“Ewww! Those taste awful!” J.J. exclaimed with disgust clearly in his voice.

The ball rolled up to the platform as it started to close. “You’ve got to be kidding me, candy always works with kids!

A loud whirring sound filled their ears, causing Muffin to tremble.

“What is that?” J.J. yelled, his words muffled by the roaring above him.

“We need to get out of here!” Clint hollered, grabbing Muffin. The boys took off on a run down the street.

“We’re close to my house!” J.J. yelled over the whirring. He cut a hard left down another street. Clint trailed behind.

“Hold on!” Clint screamed, his fear causing him to trip over his own feet. He stumbled, and fell face forward onto the pavement. Muffin squealed as they both slammed on the ground.

“Clint!” J.J. ran over to his friend. His knees were shiny with blood. The boys’ hearts were pumping.

“We’re gonna die!” Clint wailed.

“Don’t say that!” J.J. yelled back. After a moment of dread, they looked up, awaiting their fate. Suddenly, the whoosh of a helicopter passed over them and continued down the street. It was quiet now, no wind, no lights, no screaming.

The boys sat for a moment, turned to each other, then busted out in laughs of relief.

“Wait ...” Clint sat up, looking around.

“What? What is it?” J.J. said in a hushed tone.

“Where’s Muffin?” Clint now stood up, panic settling in his eyes. The boys started to call out her name in hopes that her little tail would come wagging in the dark.

“She’ll die out there, J.J.!” Clint cried.

“We’ll find her, I promise ... Here, come look this way.” J.J. grabbed Clint’s hand and led him to a pathway not far from the road.

Just then a rustle erupted from the bushes.

“Do you hear that?” Clint whispered.

“Hear what?” J.J. replied. Then, a figure taller than anything they had ever seen emerged from the bushes. Muffin in its hands.

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