Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

WEP October Challenge - Dark Places

The WEP (Write, Edit, Publish) Challenge so generously hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee is back.  Olga Godim and Nilanjana Bose have joined the team, providing welcome support to the doughty duo and a wealth of ideas.

In October, the WEP dedicates the month to the fantasy, fun, and horror of Halloween.  This month the prompt is Dark Places - which gives us a LOT of scope.  We are asked to create something from the prompt - and can do so through fiction, non-fiction, photography...   Which leaves it wide open.



If you visit here and click on any names with a DL next to them you will be taken to some wonderful pieces.   Life and inadequacy have stopped me participating in the last few challenges but I have read all of the submissions with awe and wonder.  I will marvel at the other participant's skill, imagination and ingenuity this time too.  NB:  Our entries are to be posted on the 18th of October - which has arrived here.  However half of the world hasn't got there quite yet.  So please, don't discount those who don't have a DL following their name yet.  It will come, and a revisit is definitely worthwhile.

We don't really celebrate Halloween here in Australia (despite the best efforts of commercial entities to get us on board) so I am, as usual, out of my depth. 

Which hasn't stopped me.  There are definitely some quiet and sneaky dark corners in my mind.

Without further ado...










Prestwich is a small town.  A quiet town.  Some would dismiss it as an old-fashioned town.  Hard work, responsibility and respect for family and authority are its foundations and bed-rock.  I love my adopted home and will work hard to ensure it retains its values and traditions.



Halloween adds a frisson of excitement for us all.  A time when over-excited children (too often clad in inadequate and inappropriate costumes) romp in the chilly autumnal dusk.  As principal of the local school, I echo the local police and make it very clear that their parents or an older sibling should always be with them.  In the three years I have lived in Prestwich each year at Halloween at least one (two last year) of my more wayward students has gone missing, never to be seen again.



I have a lot to do before the first children arrive.  Preparedness and discipline define me.   My usual skirt and tailored jacket is replaced with sensible black woollen trousers and a matching warm sweatshirt.



I am good with my hands and make quick and expert work of the mandatory carved pumpkin head.  Screaming this year, with candles behind the eyes.  The children will expect and some will noisily demand 'treats'.  Healthy minds are only found in healthy bodies so I cannot in good conscience give them foods which are bad for them.  Turning the 'apple for the teacher' adage on its head I set out bowls of carefully polished apples, sugarless popcorn, a water jug and paper cups.  There is, of course, a receptacle for the waste.



No doubt some of them will not be happy, but they know better than to complain in my hearing.  They also know better than to play any tricks on me.



My house is my sanctuary, my fortress if you will, and I keep it private.  They will almost certainly not be invited inside.  Nevertheless, it is immaculately clean and tidy.  The pumpkin pulp is quickly whisked away and the knife washed, sharpened and replaced with the others gleaming in the knife block.  A place for everything and everything in its place. 



It was a very busy night and I saw an almost constant stream of laughing, chattering little devils, ghosts, vampires, clowns, zombies and witches.   All of them were polite, thanked me for the apples (though several chose not to take one) and arrived with either their parents or an older brother or sister.  I had seen all of my final year students but one, the rebellious and self-willed Ebony Paige.  I was surprised not to have seen her until her parents and sister told me that she had a sudden 'tummy upset' and was home in bed.   I expressed my sympathies and hoped that she would be well enough to attend school tomorrow. 



At eleven I hadn't seen or heard anyone for half an hour.    I was considering calling it a night when an flimsily dressed vampire swooped up the path.  Alone.  She had the vampire arrogance down to a tee.   'About what I would expect.  The mean bitch has no idea of fun.  Well if she doesn't give us treats she gets tricks'   With that, she started hurling eggs at my front door.



'Ebony Paige.  You have recovered from your upset tummy I see.'

'Principal Skinner...'

'Should you be out so soon after your illness?'

'Get real.  Did you really think I was going to let your stupid restrictions allow you and my parents to cramp my style?  Really?  Not a happening thing '.



'I see.  Rules and basic honesty don't apply to you.  Come with me.  In my kitchen you will find a bucket, detergent, hot water and a scrubbing brush.  The sooner you start, the sooner you finish.  And you will keep cleaning until I am satisfied'.



It took her three grudging (and initially half-hearted) attempts but the last of the egg was finally removed from my door.



'I have finished now Principal Skinner.  Can I go now?'

'No.  We are not finished yet.  The bucket and brush you used also need cleaning' . 



I close the heavy front door.  Quietly.  Firmly.


Ebony has lied to her parents and been rude and disrespectful to me.   She has to learn her lesson.  She will learn her lesson.

She does learn her lesson. 

As an educator I can think of nothing I find more gratifying than knowing that the eureka moment has been reached, and that the student will never need that lesson repeated again..

My day's work is not yet done though.  I too have some garbage disposal and cleaning to do.

Her parents will probably think they miss her.  By sparing the rod they have spoiled this child.  Perhaps they will be stricter with her little sister.  If not, it will be my duty to step in again.  As I did last year, and the year before.

***
815 words.
Full Critique acceptable.
 



135 comments:

  1. Hi EC - a rather nasty surprise for Ebony ... so well written though ... and that horror of cleaning up first ... before the disposal-end time had come. How many like this ... and one in hand for next year ... Ghoulish remains somewhere ... well done - cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary Melton-Butcher: Definitely ghoulish remains somewhere. Probably nowhere they are going to be found though.

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    2. Hilary Melton-Butcher: Thank you. Totally unexpected, and it feels both undeserved and lovely (if that makes sense).

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  2. oo-ooo, love this story, absolutely love it! Satisfyingly creepy, with unexpected ending. And ditto the photo, I can imagine a soundtrack of howling werewolves. I'd never heard of WEP - going to check it out.

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    1. catmint: Thank you. I hope you enjoy WEP as much as I do. Though enjoy is not always the right term. This time particularly some stories are better read in the daytime.

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  3. ha ha ... she doesn't 'get' Halloween.

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    1. Author R. Mac Wheeler: She finds Halloween useful and satisfying. Perhaps the townspeople don't 'get' Principal Skinner.

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  4. I couldn't help but think the child might go missing, based upon a previous paragraph; in our town we have a group candy give out in the town square which makes it safe for children.

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    1. Linda Starr: That would make things very difficult for Principal Skinner. Which she wouldn't like.

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  5. But is the Kitchen still immaculate? ;)

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    1. Robert Bennett: Need you ask? It is now.

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  6. Oh my, oh my. Ebony still comes back, year after year. Something is amiss, something is strange.

    Very good!!!

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    1. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: I don't think Ebony will be returning. And something is certainly amiss.

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  7. One needs only to go into my dreams, Child, to go to the scary places.

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  8. Interesting story. Love the photo, very spooky.

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    1. Jamie Ghione: The photo was taken on a much happier occasion - on our way to the balloon festival.

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  9. Move over Stephen King. You do spook REALLY well, EC.

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    1. Sandra Cox: You are a shameless flatterer. Thank you.

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  10. Replies
    1. Sharon Quails: And a big thank you to you too.

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  11. HeHe, my we are strict. I wondered who would do the dirt. With Ebony cleaning her mess, I knew it had to be the principal unless Ebony had one more surprise up her sleeve.

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    1. Ann Bennett: The mess that Principal Skinner has to clean up is, or was, Ebony.

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    2. You did a great job building the story. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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  12. I wasn't sure where this was going, such a nice surprise! A place for everything and everything in its place. I ascribe to that motto! :) Nice subtle creep factor!

    We're so glad to have your writing participation, but are just as appreciative of your reading and comments, too! We love our fans as much as our writers!

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    1. Yolanda Renee: Thank you. I am much more comfortable as an appreciator.

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    2. You may be more comfortable there, but you're an amazing writer, and we appreciate that immensely!

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    3. Yolanda Renee: Megathanks. Some day I may believe that.

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    4. Ditto Yolanda's remarks. You're our best follower in that you're always so supportive by commenting so widely and well. WEP would be lesser without the likes of you. I love that you've penned for us this month...and amazingly well too. I'll be back:-)

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    5. Denise Covey: Thank you so much for making this such a supportive challenge.

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  13. Great stuff! Yu have spooky down to a tea dearie! X

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    1. All Consuming: As Yolanda says, it is a subtle creep. Nasty, but subtle.

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  14. Good golly...I've got chills running up and down my spine...goosebumps....shivers. This is so well written and though out. Great job.

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  15. I kept waiting...I knew something was coming. And then BAM! It did. WOW!!!

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    1. Donna B. McNicol: Welcome and thank you. Too slow?

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    2. kylie: Thank you. I was trying to not give it away too early.

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  16. Sinfully hilarious! Ah, what a treat you've bestowed. Thank you, EC. I SO enjoyed this.

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  17. Lol. I loved this piece, EC. Poor child, though she deserved something...

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    1. Marie Smith: Her sins were so minor weren't they? Not in Principal Skinner's eyes.

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    2. Maybe candy and a smile, EC. Lol.

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  18. It started off so tamely, then the twist at the end. Well done. I don't have an entry this time. Again.

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    1. River: I am frequently overawed and intimidated by the other contributors.

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  19. Wow! Very, very nicely done.

    And you are anything but inadequate.

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    1. Riot Kitty: Thank you. Wrestling with feelings of inadequacy is something I do often. And often.

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  20. That evil teacher ate the girl? This is horrible. Nobody deserves to be eaten, no matter how disrespectful and rebellious they are. Poor, poor Paige.
    Great post!

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    1. Olga Godim: Principal Skinner didn't eat Ebony Paige. Or at least I don't think she did.

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    2. What happened to the girl then? Did the Principle send her somewhere? Where? I need to know or I'll be endlessly worried. :)

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    3. Olga Godim: Ebony is dead. Definitely dead. She was just too irresponsible for Principal Skinner's view of the perfect town.

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  21. Ebony won't be around any longer. Hopefully her sister doesn't follow in her footsteps. One OCD educator I wouldn't want to cross.

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    1. Pat Hatt: Ebony is gone. Gone for good Principal Skinner would no doubt believe. Hopefully the younger sister is more amenable to authority. The whole town has been warned though.

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  22. tight twisty tale that did go dark....

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    1. Joanne: It did a bit didn't it? It worries me a little how comfortable I am in Principal Skinner's head.

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  23. This is a spooky treat! Love the quiet and dark humour. And your image is, as usual, beyond spectacular! Bravo!

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    1. Nilanjana Bose: Thank you. As usual I feel out-gunned and out-classed and am so grateful for the warm and supportive comments.

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  24. off with her head
    or was that hands.

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    1. desk49: Or was her head hollowed out like a pumpkin? Only Principal Skinner knows.

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  25. Wow EC...just Wow this was very good I really enjoyed this.

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  26. I enjoyed that one, and reminds me that I dare not venture into any dark places that may scare me any time soon. Kudos EC! Hugs...RO

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    1. RO: Thank you. I hope all your paths are well lit. Hugs.

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  27. Prestwich made me think of Prestatyn.
    Ebony and Principal Skinner are great names.

    Inadequate? phooey

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    1. kylie: Prestwich had another name to begin with - but it belonged to a real town. I am pretty certain that Principal Skinner disliked and distrusted Ebony Paige from the beginning - just because of her name. It just doesn't fit with old school values...

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  28. I wonder if your town began as Pendle...?
    And how long before the local policeman realises he needs help?

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    1. dinahmow: Not quite. I am wondering how long it will be too. Three teenagers gone in the preceding two years. Will Ebony's absence make the difference? Or is she 'just another runaway'?

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  29. I'm happy Ebony didn't go missing. I thought that was going to happen.
    Enjoyed reading your WEP.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

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  30. Well done, E.C. Great story and perfect for the season. Huge congratulations on a story well written.

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  31. I loved this, I suspected the principal right from the beginning, she just seemed like a suspicious character!

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    1. Laura Clipson: Suspicious? How can you say that? Principal Skinner has the town's best interests at heart...

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  32. I absolutely loved it! I wasn't sure if she was going to be a true vampire or if she was going to be "schooled." I also loved your voice in this tale. Well done!

    Elsie

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    1. Elsie Amata: If only this vampire had paid more attention at school she might have been safe. Thank you.

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  33. You won't catch me arguing with Principal Skinner. No sir.

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    1. You did a wonderful job of capturing her character. The chill beneath the staidness.
      Character development is challenging, but you nailed it.

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    2. Sandra Cox: Coming from a prolific author that comment means a lot to this dabbler. Thank you.

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  34. Yikes, so scary!! I cracked up a little since who can blame the Principal for not being able to tolerate bratty teens? We've all been there but I guess she does take it a little far.
    The line about Ebony's parents probably thinking they miss her gave me the chills!

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    1. Julie Flanders: Thank you. There isn't a lot of compassion in Principal Skinner. Or flexibility.

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    2. But I'm betting she has a fantastic insinkerator!

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    3. dinahmow: Oh yes. Industrial strength. Like her knives.

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  35. I had my suspicions about the Principal. Yikes. A scary one. I wish Ebony could turn the tables on her though,mean old witch.

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  36. What a perfect story for the season! :-)

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    1. Carrie Ann Golden: Welcome - and thank you.

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  37. Dark one, it sounds like I wouldn't to live there. OOOOOOOOOOOOO

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    1. Bob Bushell: If you stick to Principal Skinner's rules you would be fine...

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  38. I'm rooting for the principal.

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    1. She is evil, yes. I know. But still....

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    2. Susan Kane: I was surprised at just how comfortable I was in her head. And evil is such a perjorative term. Principal Skinner firmly believes that the town benefits from her work. And gives clear warnings...

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  39. You definitely score on the creepy factor! I have a feeling that Principal Skinner has a lovely garden. All thanks to her "special" kind of mulch.

    Marty K.

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    1. Marty K.: I use copious quantities of blood and bone on my garden too...

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    2. Mwahahaha. ;)

      Right after I wrote my comment, I watched a TV crime show in which the murder victims were used as mulch (and it wasn't Fargo!). Eerie coincidence!
      -MK

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    3. Marty K: Coincidences are OFTEN eerie.

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  40. Love it! Written with your dark humor and snark. :)

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    1. River Fairchild: Your support has been invaluable. I think that dark humour is more integral to me than my backbone...

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  41. Such a twisted take on the missing kids' syndrome.A principal pied piper who buries the little rotters! I think I'd avoid your house, for sure. . .

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    1. D.G. Hudson: I haven't killed anyone. Really I haven't. My house is safe, unlike Principal Skinner's.

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  42. What an ending. I guess some may think the kids deserve it, but of course, they don't. Perhaps the principal will enjoy the rest of the evening on her broomstick.
    Nancy

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    1. N.R.Williams: No, being a teenager and rebellious isn't a death penalty offence. At all.

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  43. Whoa, Sue, you've outdone yourself here. What a great story, told so innocently, until, wham, you bring us to the realization that this lady isn't all sweetness and light. Far from it. Poor Ebony. So while she hides in plain sight, no one has an inkling what this devious one is up to in her perfectly-cleaned house.

    A fantastic Halloween tale.

    Denise :-)

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    1. Denise Covey - Author: It came to me that Principal Skinner doesn't think of herself as evil, or even devious. I think she would talk about tough love, serial killer though she is.

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  44. Great story, love the normalcy that leads to other, more sinister things.

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    1. Sally: Thank you. I am really glad that I could convey that she thinks of herself as normal...

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  45. Fascinating tale EC and well told. Fitting for this time of the year.

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    1. Denise inVA: Thank you. I hope you checked out some of the other contributors work. Wordsmiths at their best.

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  46. Yowza! Dynamite, Sue. And suitably dark. You did a great job developing the principal into a believable character. (The murderous ol' biddy!)

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    1. Susan: Thank you. I hope that she was believable and that the clues I planted weren't too heavy handed.

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  47. Oh my, I think I know where the missing children have been going! It pays to be good and kind indeed around that principle! I'm just back from vacationing, but this is just up my Halloween delight in all things BOO-rific! A lovely description of place and visions! Glad that wasn't my school! Hehehe. Bravo, much enjoyed.

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    1. Karen S.: Thank you. I don't think Principal Skinner would notice kindness but it is certainly safer to obey rules around her...

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  48. Loved how normal it seemed with the dark thread woven into it so subtly. Awesome.

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    1. M.Pax: I have been grateful for the kind comments received by many accomplished authors - you included. Thank you.

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  49. You did so well with this story! Creepy!!

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  50. I admire principal Skinner. Once an educator, always an educator. No student will ever forget her. :)))

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    1. Caterina: Some of her lessons are even positive ones.

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  51. Being an educator you will rule so many hearts dear E.C!

    i am glad today i i was here to read your wonderful post through which now i know you better.
    Best wishes to you and family

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    1. baili: Thank you. I am glad you liked my story - but it is fictional.

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  52. Hope your weekend is filled with wonder, EC.

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    1. Sandra Cox: Thank you. Work and wonder. I hope yours is a joy.

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  53. For someone who doesn't celebrate Halloween- you really wrote a great creepy story. What a principal! :)
    ~Jess

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    1. DMS ~Jess: Thank you. I am really glad that you enjoyed it.

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  54. Congratulations on your win, EC!! I wasn't surprised at all to read that you won because this story is so fantastic with such a memorable twist. Congrats!!

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    1. Julie Flanders: Thank you. I was more than surprised. Indeed when I got the email I thought that Yolanda had sent it by mistake.

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  55. Not too slow (from my previous comment), it kept the tension at just the right level.

    Huge congratulations on your win!!!!

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    1. Donna B. McNicol: Thank you - on both counts. I really would hate to be in the judges shoes. I thought so many of the stories were amazing.

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  56. Congratulations!! Excellent story.

    I've always said you can't trust perfection.

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    1. Elizabeth Seckman: Welcome and thank you. You can certainly trust me on that basis. No perfection here. Ever.

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