October Writing Contest Winner!


Laila Murphy- First Place Winner of Mistress' October Writing Contest!

We have a winner for the October Writing Contest.  Congratulations to Laila Murphy for a job well done on her story!  The voting looked to be rather intense, but she clearly won with almost fifty-seven percent of the vote.  I hope everyone takes a moment to stop by and congratulate her.  Thanks to all the contestants for participating.  We had some great entries this month which made the selection process especially difficult.

Remember that all of you can continue to participate in future contests and any of you could become the next person to get first place!  Only the winners have a three-month period that they cannot qualify for the finalist round.  Despite this, many do come back and submit entries just for fun.

Just so you all know, Laila is currently doing a fundraiser for Marie Curie Cancer Care.  She has pledged £3,750.00, much of which is collected in December.  As of today, she has raised £ 2,159.56 and needs helping reaching the rest of her goal.  If anyone would be willing to contribute, this is the link for more information.  It looks to be a very good cause and Laila is even going to climb to the Mt. Everest base camp as part of her fund-raising campaign (she is covering the cost of the climb out of her own pocket so all the donations can go directly to the charity).  Please check it out if you get a chance.

I have contacted Laila in regards to getting her $20 Amazon gift card to her.  She is also welcome to print this trophy picture and hang it on her wall if she likes 🙂

For those of you who didn’t see her winning story, here it is:

The Picketty Witch

by Laila Murphy

~~~~~

Last year I got a little carried away on Mischief Night. It was just a bit of harmless fun; graffiti and some fireworks in letterboxes. I was only having a laugh. The police didn’t see it that way though. Since my arrest, mum has kept a close eye on me, particularly at this time of year. That’s why I’d been dumped at this lame Halloween party at my neighbour’s house, listening to ghost stories instead of being out with my mates.

The stories had been pathetic; not even scary. The other seemed to find them thrilling, giggling and shrieking throughout. Pathetic. I feel years ahead of girls my own age.

I was about to sneak off to have a root through Mrs Barber’s kitchen cupboards to see what booze I could find when Matilda, Mrs Barber’s adopted daughter, got to her feet and the whole room hushed.
The flickering candlelight from the carved pumpkins cast an eerie glow across her face and when she smiled her grin was lit so that it seemed to stretch from ear to ear.

“I’m going to tell you all a true story.” She whispered. “Have any of you heard of the Picketty Witch?”

A long silence was her only answer. Tension filled the space where laughter had been. I felt it too and was actually interested, despite myself.

“The story begins over two hundred years ago, when this town was nothing more than a village and this street marked the very edges of it. People lived in poor, ramshackle cottages and each knew their neighbour and their neighbours’ business. They were all part of a tight-knit community – all except one.
Picketty Cottage stood on the edge of the marshland that used to surround here. It was more tumbledown than the rest of them and the person who lived in there cared very little for the company of others.

She was sewing woman, who kept chickens in her yard and herself to herself. But the villagers had reason to believe she was more than just a harmless lady. There were those who suspected that her bumper harvests and thriving livestock, which seemed to flourish as disease destroyed other farms, were more than just good fortune. The word ‘witch’ was whispered though no one dared accuse her directly.

One year, on All Hallows Eve, a boy went missing. The villagers looked everywhere for the child but he was never found. A church service was eventually held for his soul and his parents had no body to bury. The following All Hallows Eve, another child went missing, never to be seen again.

The woman from Picketty Cottage never helped with the searches and people began to grow suspicious. The following year, when the blacksmith’s son disappeared, a party from the village armed with pitchforks and torches went to the edge of the marshes and shouted at the woman in Picketty Cottage to come out.

“We know it’s you who takes our children, witch!” They screamed. “You sacrifice them to keep your bargain with the devil, so that he flowers your crops and you never starve!”

She appeared at the door, hands open, palms up, in a gesture of surrender and the mob hushed.
“You’re wrong. I’m a harmless woman, not a witch. If my crops flower that is good farming, not the Devil’s work.”

“Where are our children?” One woman screamed.
“I do not know. I’m sorry. I cannot help you. What a shame. They were such charming children.”

As she spoke, one man noticed her hand was bandaged and bleeding heavily, the red seeping steadily through the cloth. “What happened to you?” he asked suspiciously. As the woman clutched her arm, there was a sudden scream from inside the cottage.

With a roar, the men surged forward, pushing past her and inside. They found the boy in a cage, bound and screaming, having managed to loosen his gag around his mouth. Once freed, they carried him outside to where the Picketty Witch was now surrounded by pitchforks brandished by wailing, screaming villagers.

Her lips were curled back, exposing her teeth and gums in a snarl.

“Yes, I did take those children. And what loss will they be to the world? The little boy who I took first was a thief and a liar, who stole corn from the mill. And the little girl? She was a spoilt, selfish brat who bullied other children. They were wicked – just like that brat who beats animals when he thinks no one is looking. Only I know how powerful it makes you feel, don’t I, little boy?”

She glowered at him with red-rimmed hatred. The boy flushed.

“She tried to slit my throat!” he cried. “I wriggled free and cut off two of her fingers with her own knife but she caught me as I tried to escape. She said she was going to kill me and eat me – just like she did with the others.”

With a shriek of fury, the mob flew at the Picketty Witch, stabbing, kicking and tearing. Her terrible screams ripped across the empty marshes.

They set her cottage alight and threw her body onto the flames, watching it burn until there was nothing left of the Picketty Witch and her cottage except a pile of black cinders.

They never spoke of her but could not forgot and the place where her cottage once stood was left to ruin. No one dared go back there.

Until one day, on Halloween, over twenty years later, a child from the village disappeared. It was the son of the blacksmith. The little boy the Picketty Witch had tried to take all those years ago.

A frightened party of people returned to the site of the blackened cottage to sprinkle holy water over it. The crumpled chimney stack collapsed on top of the priest, killing him outright. As the villagers turned and fled, it was said laughter could be heard from inside the ruins. The little boy, like those before him, was never seen again.”

The room was completely silent. I let out the breath I didn’t realise I’d been holding. Matilda grinned.

“So, what happened to the witch?” one of the girls asked, her voice quivering.
“Well, the story goes that eating the children gave her mastery over death and made her immortal. So she waited in the ruins of her cottage, biding her time.

Years went by, the village died and there was no one left who remembered the Picketty Witch. The land was bought up and built on, like everywhere else in town.”

“You mean that one of the houses in this street could be stood on the same spot as the cottage?” One girl asked, aghast.

“Oh yes,” Matilda said calmly, “In fact, I know exactly which house is stood there now. It’s number twenty-four at the bottom of the road. Where Mrs Talbot lives.”

Every person in the room gasped and I felt ice prickle the length of my spine. Old Mrs Talbot. The withered old woman who kept to herself, who hated kids, who shook her fist at us when we laughed at her and called her names. Mrs Talbot, whose letterbox I had shoved fireworks into last year, who called the police and got me arrested.

“I know that woman! She’s definitely a witch!” I jumped up, making someone scream. The younger girls were crying now. I didn’t care. At last! Some excitement! “Let’s go over to her house right now.”

Wails from the room told me none of the wimps were game. Matilda gave me a hard look.

“Are you sure that’s such a good idea? I mean, what are you planning on doing? Calling out Mrs Talbot as the Picketty Witch?”

“Yeah! Let’s do it!” The blood beat about my head and I felt dizzy, exhilarated.

A few of the others came with me. We ran down the road, laughing and shrieking. Matilda stood framed in the doorway, silhouetted against the porch light, shaking her head.

Number twenty four was shrouded in darkness. Mrs Talbot kept the curtains drawn day and night, the loopy old cow. The rusty gate creaked on its hinges as I pushed it open, gesturing the other girls to follow me.

“What do we do?” One whispered. They all tensed, waiting for my answer. It felt so good to be in charge again, in control.

“Let’s spilt up. I’ll go around and try to get in the back door. You try the other side. Look for an open window. Let’s give this witch a fright.”

“I don’t know,” one whimpered. I swore at her and ducked off, skirting the walls.

I rounded the corner and peered through the kitchen window. All was dark, silent and deserted. I tried the handle. It was locked.

The house seemed empty. Disappointed, I shouted for the others but no one answered me. They had obviously lost their bottle and ran off. What pathetic losers. Was no one game for a laugh?

A twig snapped behind me. Before I could turn around, a blunt force hit me square on the head and the world went black.

***

When I came around I could taste blood in my mouth and was nearly sick. I tried to sit up, but my hands were tied behind my back. I was lying on a large table in a dark room, though where I was, I couldn’t tell. It was dark outside and I couldn’t see any street lights through the bare window. I wrinkled my nose. There was a strange burning smell in the air.

“Is this meant to be a sick joke?” I yelled, hiding the fear blossoming in my stomach.

“I see you’re awake. That’s good.”

I twisted, trying to see where the voice was coming from.

“There now,” said Matilda, coming into view. “How did you enjoy my story?”

I swore loudly and tried to kick her but she stepped easily out of the way. “Sorry about knocking you out. A bit clumsy I know, but I didn’t think you would be easily talked into visiting my home.”

“What are you talking about? Where are we, bitch?” I snarled.

“Nowhere. Nowhere they’ll find you anyway. We’ve gone ‘off the grid’, so to speak.”

“You’re sick, Matilda. I’m going to the police.”

“And to think only a short while ago, you were prepared to torment an innocent old woman just because of a silly Halloween story.”

“Is that what this is about? Look, it was a harmless joke. It’s not like I was going to hurt the old bat. Who is she, anyway?”

“Mrs Talbot? Nobody. Just an old woman.”

Matilda reached behind her and when she turned around I could just about see the dull gleam from the large knife she brandished in her hand and the two stumps clearly visible where once two fingers had been.

The blood vessels burst inside my head and warmth spurted out of my nose. My vision swam, like looking out of a window with rain running down it. She leant over me, and smiled. I tried to scream but couldn’t.

I think I heard her laugh.

————————————————————————————————————————————

All of the other contestant’s entries can be viewed here.  I am truly pleased to see so many people were inspired to contribute their stories.  The next contest will begin on the week of November 20th.  It will have a “food” theme (that is all I’m saying for now).  I will look forward to seeing what participants come up with!

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~ by Suzie on November 1, 2011.

9 Responses to “October Writing Contest Winner!”

  1. Congratulations Laila!

  2. Great story.

    Arthur

  3. Congrats, Laila! Fabulous story.

  4. I’m absolutely thrilled to have won! Thank you so much everyone for all the positive comments, much appreciated, I’m so glad you liked the story! 🙂

  5. That was a fantastic story, Laila, though I don’t think I should’ve read it at midnight in a dark room… *looks around for a witch*

  6. Congratulations, Laila. You story is very engaging! I love it.

    Good luck with the fundraiser — great cause.

  7. Laila, You should be rightfully proud of yourself! Both for your writing skills and for setting such an ambitious and worthy charity challenge for yourself… Good luck with it and keep writing! 🙂

  8. Congrats, Laila!

  9. What a scary story! This was great and you deserve the win!

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