Fall, 2008
24-Hour Short Story Contest
1st Place Winner!


The cast iron pot was blackened and warped, but had provided years of delicious concoctions. Movement caught her eye through the cracked window. She turned her head, but saw only red, orange, yellow and brown leaves racing by in the fierce wind. She shivered as cold air leaked through the window's cracks, and leaned down to stoke the fire.

Squinting at her recipe book, she scratched the mole on her nose. The fourth ingredient was always the hardest to find...

Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.


Trick Or Treat by Gina Padilla, Waterford, MI

It was always that fourth ingredient that messed up Sadie's stew. She scratched the large mole on her nose in frustration. In years of making her special stew, she had modified the recipe but it was never quite as good without children's fingernails. Bat wings or eagle talons could be substituted, but there was something about the children's fingernails that made it much tastier. They were just so hard to find.

It had been years since she had the original stew and she would have been satisfied with the bat she caught last night if not for the movement she saw outside the cracked window of her tiny cottage. She only saw the leaves racing by, but then heard a light knock on her door. As she turned from the stove she heard voices yell out.

"Trick or Treat!"

Sadie shook her head, it wasn't possible. No one ever came to her door. She crept to the door and peeked out through the peep hole. There on her stoop stood two children. She couldn't tell their ages, but one was dressed as a ghost and one, Sadie had to put her hand over her mouth to stifle a laugh, was a witch. It seemed too early for the silly Halloween tradition but Sadie did not keep a calendar. She thanked the spirits for the opportunity and quickly opened the door.

The gremlins stood there, barely reaching Sadie's waist. "Trick or Treat!" they demanded again holding out plastic bags to be filled.

Sadie cackled. "Oh, you look so scary! I didn't want to open the door!"

"Do you have treats for us?" the ghost asked.

"Oh, yes," said Sadie.

"Where are they?" asked the witch.

"They're inside. I'm making them."

"You're making candy?"

"Yes, it's a special kind of candy."

"Well, we want it now," said the ghost.

Sadie laughed again, the impertinence of the children amazing her.

"Well, it will be ready soon, Mr. Ghost. Why don't you come inside and wait? I have some hot cider for you."

The children hesitated.

"Well, if you don't want the candy, I guess I'll just have to give it to the next children who come by."

"Okay, we'll take it," said the ghost. "It won't be long?"

"No, of course not, come in," said Sadie. The ghost stepped over the threshold, but the smaller witch didn't move. "You too, Miss Witch. Come on in." The little witch tentatively stepped in the doorway. As soon as they were inside, Sadie bolted the door.

She turned from the door and stood face to face with two hulking ogres. They filled the room and had to stoop to not hit their heads on the ceiling.

"You! You can't be here, this home is protected!" Sadie screamed in shock.

"You invited us in," the ogre that had been dressed as the ghost said grinning, revealing rows of yellowed and broken teeth.

"No! Get out!" Sadie screamed.

"Oh, we will. We just need something first," said the other ogre. It was the shorter of the two but its yellow eyes glowed brighter.

The ogres moved toward her. Sadie turned and unbolted the door, but before she could get it open the ogres were upon her. They grabbed her and pinned her to the floor. Sadie screamed. The smaller ogre took out a dirty rag and stuffed it in her mouth. The other one grabbed a rope out of its pocket and began tying her up.

Sadie squirmed, punched and kicked, but she was no match for the ogres' strength.

The bigger ogre took a jar out of one of its many pockets. The jar was filled with something Sadie couldn't quite make out. The other ogre took out a knife. Sadie's eye grew huge and she began moving her head back and forth. The smaller ogre leaned close to her and she could feel and smell its fetid breath.

"If you keep moving, I'm gonna cut your throat. Now, if you stop, we'll just take what we need and leave, okay?"

Sadie closed her eyes and hot tears rolled down her cheeks.

"Awww, look, sis," said the bigger ogre. "You made the mean old witch cry."

"Shut up! Just hold her head steady so I can do this!"

Sadie felt big hands on either side of her head. She didn't open her eyes. She felt the knife blade on the tip of her nose and squeezed her eyes shut tighter. She felt the blade slice and screamed into the rag in her mouth. She opened her eyes and saw the ogres placing the mole they had just cut from her nose into the jar with other moles. The bigger ogre took out another dirty rag and placed it on Sadie's now bleeding nose.

"Okay, brother, let's go," the smaller ogre said, glancing at the dirty scrap of paper in its hand. "That was the last one. Twenty-one moles from old witches' noses. It's getting so hard to find that fourth ingredient. Now momma can finally finish the stew. I'm starving."

What Gina won:

$300 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book; database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)

Contest guidelines are HERE.

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