Halloween is coming soon, and part of our Halloween traditions involve a party that we attend where we have a haunted house and tell scary stories. Last year I was a mad scientist doing an alien autopsy (see fake guts) for the haunted house. This year I think I'll be a gypsy fortune teller and maybe do a seance.

Anyway...the scary story part....last year I told a version of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-tale Heart" and it was a huge hit. It actually scared people!! This year I think I'll make up a couple of stories. Here's what I have so far..

The Ghostly Cheerleader
(Note: This story was inspired by an incident where my daughter's cheerleading squad had a clinic at a nearby high school. The school is old and rather creepy and the girls talked themselves into believing that the bathroom in the girl's locker room was haunted)

Lacey Delgado walked down the long dark hall leading to the locker room bathrooms. Something about the chill of the hall and the odd echo of her footsteps gave her the creeps, even though she could still hear her teammates working on their cheers in the gym behind her. The hall seemed to go on and on, and the burned out lights and dark windows in the doors to the abandoned classrooms definetely made her nervous. Twice she swore she could hear a slight scuffle behind her, but when she turned around, there was nothing there. She felt like she was being watched, like unseen eyes were following her, perhaps from one of those empty rooms. Just when she was about to give up and go back to the lighted gym, she saw it...the girl's bathroom.

Pushing the door open, Lacey entered an old fashioned school restroom. Obviously the place hadn't seen much use lately. The mirror over the sink was clouded and coated with a thin layer of dust. The stained sinks were dry and discolored where water had dripped for many years. The chipped tile floor was littered with torn paper towels and peeling paint. Still feeling a bit spooked, Lacey pushed open the door of the nearest stall and did what she came for.

The stall door opened with a creak as Lacey walked out and started to wash her hands. Glancing up into the dusty mirror, she felt her heart leap into her throat as she saw written in the grime the shakey words "Get out...NOW!". Lacey bolted for the door, running blindly, panic overtaking her. A fear like none she'd ever felt before flowed through her body...The hair at the back of her neck seemed to be crawling and she felt unseen eyes on her as she sprinted towards the hall. Just as she reached the door, the entire room began to shake. Lacey was knocked to the floor as the floor seemed to tilt. The noise was deafening, lights crashed to the floor, lockers broke loose from their moorings and tipped into the hallway outside, the dusty mirror shattered and sprayed the bathrooms with shards of glass. Lacey covered her head with her arms and lay still as the tremors passed. She knew this part of California was prone to earthquakes, but she'd never actually experienced one, and her knees were weak as she climbed to her feet, determined to get out of the building before another shock hit.

Lacey pulled hard at the bathroom door, but it wouldn't budge. The old building had shifted in the earthquake and the door was jammed shut. Then she heard an urgent whisper coming from behind her..."This way..quick..I know another way out!" Spinning around, Lacey was shocked to see another cheerleader standing in the bathroom behind her. She hadn't known anyone else was in there with her, but there stood a blonde girl in a blue cheerleading uniform. The name Alicia was spelled out in gold letters on her tunic.

The girl began prying at a large piece of plywood on the far wall. The plywood had been revealed when the tiles covering it had shaken off in the tremor. The plywood came off with a loud groan, and Lacey followed the girl into a dark musty hallway. Thick dust covered the floor and spiderwebs blurred the dim ceiling. It was obvious that this place hadn't been used in a long long time. The only light came from a grimey window at the far end of the hall, and Lacey hurried to keep the blue uniform in sight. Broken glass, fallen plaster and other things that Lacey didn't want to think about crunched under her feet as she made her way towards the distant light. To her relief, she realized that the light was coming from a door leading to the outside. The blonde girl pushed open the door and indicated that Lacey should exit first. Lacey stumbled into the sunlight and gasped the fresh air. Almost immediately an aftershock shook the earth and Lacey was knocked to the ground. When she stood up, the girl was gone and the door was closed.

Lacey's coach came running towards her, shouting to rescue workers that Lacey had been found. Urgently, Lacey pleaded with the workers to find Alicia, to find the girl who had led her to safety. The door was pried open and the party entered the dusty hallway. Oddly, only one set of footprints could be seen winding down the dusty hallway, but workers followed them quickly to the abandoned bathroom. Alicia was nowhere to be seen.

Later, in her living room at home Lacey was propped up on the couch recovering from her ordeal. Luckily no one had been hurt in the quake. Alicia had never been located, but no cheerleaders were missing, so it was assumed she'd been a girl from another squad. A knock was heard at the door, and Lacey could hear her mother speaking softly with a woman at the door. After awhile she led a blonde woman into the room and introduced her to Lacey. The woman said she'd like to talk to Lacey for a bit if she was up to it. This is what she told her:

The woman, whose name was Amy Porter, had been a cheerleader, along with her twin sister Alicia, at the old school many years ago. One night during cheerleading practice, a terrible earthquake had hit. Alicia and Amy had been in the bathroom and had run for the door at the first tremors. Amy made it safely outside, but Alicia had been hit by a falling beam and died in the hallway. The school boarded up the old hallway after that, deciding that it couldn't be made safe. The school,later named Alicia Porter Memorial High School, had tiled over the entrance to the old hall, and no one had thought about it for years. That is, until a cheerleader named Alicia led Lacey Delgado to safety down the old abandoned hallway.

Feel free to use or adapt this story. That's part of what I love about storytelling, the way a story takes on a life of its own.