MCom 100w

Writing Workshop

Ghoulishly good extra credit

Just in time for Halloween comes this ghoulishly good extra credit option: Write a short (but true) tale of a memorable Halloween experience for up to 15 points extra credit.

To get the full 15 points, you’ll have to craft an engaging lead and tell a good tale. Your first-person Halloween essay/story should include details and description, and maybe some quotes. Feel free to include anecdotes, similes and metaphors. (Of course, it may essentially be one big anecdote.) It should be about 200-300 words, and reading it should make me smile (making me laugh is even better). Or, if it’s sad and makes me teary, that works too. But focus on that “human interest/appeal to emotions” news value, perhaps along with a dose of “unusualness.”

Have fun with it, and post it on your blog by the end of this week.

Here’s my story:

I blame it all on my Uncle Eddie. He’s the one who showed my best friend Martha and me how to turn a stick, some string and a old wooden spool of thread into a terror-inducing device.

It was almost Halloween. We were 12 or 13 years old — the age when you’ve stopped going out trick or treating but haven’t yet figured out what to do instead. We lived out in the country: No streetlights, not much traffic, and not much to do. You had to make your own entertainment.

So that’s what we did. With my uncle’s help, we hatched a plan to scare Martha’s siblings. Her parents were out for the evening, and her one of her older sisters was babysitting the four younger kids (yes, it was a big family — nine kids in all).

Uncle Eddie showed us how to use a pocket knife to notch the edges of an old wooden spool (my mother sewed, so a empty spool of thread wasn’t hard to find). Then he tied a piece of string tightly around the spool, and wrapped the rest of the string around it. We slid the spool onto a stick (actually, a TinkerToy connector), and tested it out. We pressed the spool against a window pane and yanked the string. It made a loud, ominous rattle against the glass: Brrapp.

We rewrapped the string and did it again. Excellent! It was already dark out, and we were ready.

We snuck across the field to Martha’s house, giggling all the way. We picked a dark window and placed the spool against the pane. We pulled the string. Brrapp. Again. Brrapp.

We ran away, giggling quietly. Found another dark window. Repeat: Brrapp. Brrapp. Heard nervous kids inside the house, saying, “What’s that? What’s that?” Brrapp. Brrapp. Then we ran back across the field to my house, laughing.

“Ha-ha, I guess we really scared them!”

We were quite pleased with ourselves. After a while, Martha went home … and that’s when things went sour. Turns out her youngest brother, Mark, got so scared that he puked, and the other kids panicked and called the police. Martha confessed, and was grounded for months. Her parents banned me from coming to their house — I was clearly a bad influence.

I vowed to never try anything like that again … until another Halloween, when my cousins (Uncle Eddie’s sons, of course) and my brother and I found ourselves with a bag of rotten apples, which we decided to throw at passing cars … never expecting that we’d actually hit one. But that’s another story.

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