O Me of Little Faith

Congratulations to Ted Slater, the winner of yesterday’s Five-Sentence Scary Story Contest. Honorable Mention goes to Lauren Sawyer, who also had an excellent entry.

To recap, I posted a photo of an unknown family standing in front of the world’s largest ball of twine in Darwin, Minnesota. I asked for a scary story to be written about the photo. Rules: the story had to have only five sentences, and it had to use the name Jimmy.

I was thrilled with the results. Some of you are really good writers — especially when it comes to establishing a mysterious and/or foreboding tone.

Why did Ted win? Though being longish in length, his story was very tight. It was bookended with the same creepy phrase (“Jimmy had a secret”). It contained a paragraph-length sentence held together with semicolons — a genius move. It had a dog named Scraps and the phrases “inglorious death” and “doorless tribal hut.” Nice work, Ted. (We shouldn’t be surprised: Ted is a publishing professional.)

Here’s his submission, along with the photo:

Jimmy Had a Secret

Jimmy had a secret.

He was well-acquainted with the legends surrounding the mysterious doorless tribal hut, had read all about it in the latest issue of National Geographic Kids. The stories of those who had merely brushed up against its fibrous exterior, all doomed to spiral into a mind-twisting dementia and an eventual and inglorious death.

He thought of his father, who had asked him (for the last time) to stop asking if we were there yet; of his mother, whose penchant for country music had grown wearisome; of his sister, who kept touching his leg in the car; of his brother, who never, ever let him hold Scraps, their pet dog.

And all this left Jimmy giddy in anticipation, for Jimmy had a secret.



Congrats, Ted. Expertly done. Shoot me an email with shipping address and I’ll send you a book.

And great job, Lauren, who managed to work a creepy orphan, creepy nuns, a request to the gods, and the freezing of a soul into her story. Very nice.

Let’s do this again sometime. It was fun.

(And if you happen to know the people in that photo, you might check up on them. I’ve got a bad feeling about that kid with the dog.)

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