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Fall Frenzy Writing Contest

I love Fall. The trees changing and showing off their true colors, the cool air, the crunch of the leaves under my shoes on walks. I must admit that this year, while I am certainly ready to move forward and through the ick that has taken over 2020, I also feel a certain sadness for lost plans. And I am not really looking forward to wiping dog paws every time our pooches come in from play time. But, I'll take it to have a chance at some scary story time and walks in the colorful forest.

As with last year, I was struggling to come up with a story idea. And then, old ideas, focusing on just a couple Fall Frenzy images, and working outside in the cool air, stirred up a story where truth and fiction mix and mingle.

Photo of a road on a fall foggy day.
Image 10

Secrets of the Woods

By Sarah Tobias, 196 words

Long before the strip mall, blacktop, and traffic, there was a farm with housing, work, and food for the poor. Today, what remains is a cemetery and a path into the woods.

Go slowly. Look closely. The woods share secrets when you step off the path.

There. A bright speck. Broken glass.

Pottery, shards, and jars rising up from the earth.

Something glistens at the periphery of your vision.



A branch snaps.

Search the woods.

Still and Silent. Large eyes watch you. Waiting.

Take a breath. It’s just a deer.

To your left again, shimmering and glittering at the edge of your vision.

Slowly. Turn your head.

A man. There but not quite there. Silver and gold pendants hang from tattered lapels, sleeves, and pockets.

Crackling leaves. The deer runs off.

Sunlight catches something at your feet. Pick it up, brush away the dirt, and feel the engraving.


Sheriff of Poor Farm

Cackling laughter. Ha! Ha! Ha! Hee, Hee Hee. Woo Hooooo!

Look up.

Blue eyes twinkle and the man disappears.

Walk over to where he faded away. Brush away the leaves and dirt, feel the engraving.

Cornelius Downing

Died October 3, 1896.



Kaitlyn Sanchez
Kaitlyn Sanchez
Oct 15, 2020

Thank you for sharing this interactive, spooky story with us for the fall writing frenzy!


Eerie and evocative. You do a wonderful job of building tension, shifting moods, and taking us far in so few words. I love how you lead us on a merry chase, with bright, shiny details directing our search, until a branch snaps and everything changes—as we become the object of surveillance and must reckon with the impossible, the "there but not quite there." @AnneLipton


oooo, atmospheric and compelling.


I love this. So atmospheric. And the ending so perfect for the season.

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