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Love of Movies, History Inspired State Street Student’s Winning Halloween Writing Contest Entry

Luke Moore stands in front of State Street Elementary

When fourth-grade student Luke Moore came home from school one day in October, he asked if anything exciting had happened. He was told: “Yes, something very exciting happened today!”

Luke had been named as the winner of the annual Bruce Coville Halloween Story Contest in the grades four and five category. Every year, Coville writes the beginning of a Halloween story and students are invited to write the ending. Moore’s entry was judged by a panel of reporters, editors, and photographers at and was selected from among 400 entries across Central New York.

Luke spent about a week writing the ending and estimated that he went through three drafts before submitting his final entry. So how did he come up with the idea for the ending?

“I watch a lot of movies and play video games,” Luke said. “There was one movie I watched where the clock re-wound in time, and some of the video games I play have history in them so I got some ideas from those. I love history.”

Upon reading Luke’s ending, it’s easy to see his passion for history. His piece throws the narrator back to the year 1809 and references horse and buggy rides as a means of transportation. The narrator meets a fisherman- inspired by fishing books Luke has read- as he searches for Theodore St. Frankinshorts.

“I was just thinking about Frankenstein when I came up with his name,” Luke said.

When he found out that he had won, Luke was thrilled.

“I was thinking hard when I was writing because I really wanted to win!”

Read Coville’s opening to the story and Luke’s ending below:

“Well, this place is a right mess,” said my grandfather.
We were standing in front of the old Monroe house, which everyone knew was haunted. That didn’t make any difference to Gramps, since he scoffed at the very idea of ghosts.
“I’ve been doing this work for 35 years, and haven’t met a ghost yet,” he often told me.
“This work” was setting up estate sales . . . which meant getting rid of the things left when someone old and rich died and his or her relatives didn’t want a lot of the dead person’s stuff, just the money it would bring.
This was my first time helping Gramps, and, despite his promise that ghosts didn’t exist, I was kind of nervous.
“Go grab a couple of sticks from that dead tree over there,” he told me.
“What for?” I asked, wondering if he felt we needed some kind of weapon.
“You’ll see when we get inside.”
I came back with the sticks, and we mounted the creaky steps. Three things added to my nervousness. First, this place sure looked haunted. Second, a thunderstorm was brewing. Third, it was Halloween – a weird day to be prowling around in a dead guy’s spooky old house.
Gramps unlocked the door, which creaked as he pushed it open.
“Worse than I feared,” he muttered.
I saw what he meant. Old Man Monroe had died three months before, and while the relatives had been fighting over what to do with the house, the spiders had been busy. Spider webs festooned the place! Well, at least now I knew what the sticks were for ... we would be using them to wind up webs. Which was fairly gross.
Two hours after we finished de-webbing, Gramps sent me to what he called the junk room. It was filled with chairs with broken legs, cracked mirrors, big trunks and mysterious objects covered by sheets. My job was to make a list of what was here, then write a brief description of each thing.
I pulled away a sheet, raising a small cloud of dust. Doing this revealed a beautiful wooden dresser covered with strange carvings. I wondered why one of the relatives wouldn’t want it. I would have loved to have it.
Resting on the dresser was a wooden box, also covered with odd carvings. I slid the box forward. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to list what was inside something like this, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt. Besides, I was curious.
The box was a perfect cube, about a foot on each side. Two rusted hinges at the back, and a rusted latch at the front, held the lid in place. I fumbled with the latch, but it was stuck. Finally I used the screwdriver to pry it open. As I lifted the lid, a bolt of lightning crackled through the sky.
Looking down, I gasped.
The box contained a human head!
That was gross. But what was really scary was that the head opened its eyes, looked straight at me, and said in a raspy voice, “Well it’s about time!”
I backed away.
“Don’t go!” ordered the head. “I need you. And you’re going to need me before the night is over!”
“What do you mean?” I whispered.
“You opened the box , and in doing so, you woke me. But you also roused the curse! Things are about to get very interesting . . . and very dangerous! Let me explain.”
I listened in horror as he spoke.
The head spoke, “If you leave you will go back to 1809 when this house was made.” I thought it was my grandpa’s joke and I walked away from the head. When I left I started to get a headache. Then from what I remember I fell to the ground. I woke up 4 hours later. When I woke I heard something loud. I recognized it from the music box that we tested in the mansion. It was a mix of country and jazz. I opened my eyes and saw beautiful white walls. It reminded me of the painting that I saw in the Monroe mansion but that was from 1809! It can’t be. I thought it’s impossible unless the head was real. It’s probably just a nightmare I thought. I slammed my head against the wall hoping I would wake up, but I didn’t. The head was real.
Suddenly a voice out of nowhere said, “you must find the body the head belonged to before it was cut off . You must find the person before the next full moon. Two days remain or his head will be cut off and he will also not be buried and you will be stuck in 1809 forever. If you can find him, you have to warn him about what will happen on the night of the full moon and he has a chance to escape if he stays in his house that day. The man’s name is Theodore St. Frankinshorts. I will give you this picture so you can identify him if you see him. When you walk through the door in front of you, you will be at a party. He is not attending this party so don’t ask anybody if their name is Theodore St. Frankinshorts. Walk through the door to the right and there will be a grand hall. Keep walking straight and you will eventually come to another door and that is the exit. Walk through that door and get a ride into town on the horse and buggy. Pay the man these gold coins.” Just then a picture and some gold coins dropped down from the ceiling and fell on my head. “Ouch!” I yelled. The voice kept talking, “blah blah blah.” I had tuned him out and was looking at the picture and coins. Then, he started to say something important so I listened again. He said, “these are Theordore’s favorite places to hang out--the theater, the pond, and the general store--so make sure you check these places for him when you reach the town. He also sits by the river but that is when he is sad.” I said goodbye and started to follow his instructions.
I hitched a horse and buggy and paid him two gold coins and I was on my way to town. It took me only five minutes because my horse was lightning fast. When I finally got there I gave the driver a tip and started making my way to the theater.
When I got to the theater, it was closed. “Aw shucks!” I said “this is not going to be as easy as I thought.” I hustled over to the general store and I went in because it is open all day every day. There was a sign and that is how I knew. I went inside and showed the employees the picture. I found out he worked there but they said he took a day off. So I decided to go to the pond for the last stop (I had hoped). All I found at the pond was a fisherman. I showed him the photograph and he said that Theodore had stopped by earlier and he could tell that he was down about something. It was getting dark and I was getting tired.
I had no place to stay but the fisherman was open to letting me stay at his house for the night. I thanked him by handing him a gold coin. Supper was a big salmon. I asked him where he caught it and he said at the river. At that moment I remembered that the voice said “when he is sad he sits by the river”. I asked him if he could give me a ride to the river and he said sure. “Thanks” I said and we went to sleep and got up at about 5:27am. I was so tired but he said it was a long ride. I asked how long and he said about 9 hours. “Yikes! It’s going to be a long one!” I said. I was right.
Just when I felt like my head was going to explode with horse hoof sounds, he said the remarkable words “we’re here!” I was so excited I almost jumped in the river. He showed me a path. I walked down the path for two hours until I found a small clearing and sure enough there he was Theodore St. Frankinshorts. I told him what was going to happen to him tonight and surprisingly he believed me. He let me come with him to his house. He was sad because his dog got taken away by a mean man named Ricky Flaxer, who raided peoples’ houses and stole their pets.
That night when we made it to his house, he cooked supper and he allowed me to sleep there. When I woke up the next morning I was back exactly where I fainted in the mansion. I told my Grandpa the story and he said “you are probably hallucinating from all the dust!” I told him no but he refused to listen. We cleaned out the mansion and I went to the dresser and the wooden box was not there but in its place was a thank you note. It said,
January 5, 1809
Thank you very much. The night that you left a man with a sword was spotted on a horse in the town on the side of the river in the clearing. I figured that was the exact man that would have hurt me. But thanks to you he never found me. I was safe in my house.
Theodore St. Frankinshorts
PS. Where did you go?
That night I slept with satisfaction and a giant smile on my face. I can’t wait to help my grandfather with his next estate sale.
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Eric Knuth
45 East Elizabeth Street
Skaneateles, NY 13152