2023 Youth Scary Story Contest Winner: The Help of a Doll

The results of the 2023 Youth Scary Story Contest are in, and the winners have been selected.  Our winner for grades 8 and 9 is Adelynn B., a ninth-grader at Harborside Academy!  We were impressed by the evocative prose of "The Help of a Doll" and hope you will be, too.

Want to read another scary story?  Check out Milo H.'s "The Curse of Lilacville," our winner for grades 3-5.  (Note: Our grades 6-7 winner requested that we not post their story publicly.  Trust us that it was creepy, wild, and laugh-out-loud funny.)

The Help of a Doll

The wind buffeted the rickety window, and a chill ran down my spine. I grasped the moth eaten blanket desperately, wishing I was anywhere else. I clutched Evria closer to my chest.

The small doll stared up at me with blank eyes, the beads hanging loosely from thread. Her dull red and gray dress was tattered and ripped, a gaunt reminder of the draining wealth. I shivered, my body seizing in the cold. I grit my teeth, and whispered to Evria, “I wish it would all be better.” I imagine her response, the quiet song of a doll, I can help you.

If only, I wish, maybe everything could change if Father would come back. Suddenly, the roaring wind kicked up, I felt the house moan as the elements took charge. The rain started.

Large swaths of raindrops lashed across the small window, but Evira told me everything was going to be okay. Everything will be okay, as long as I have her. Somehow, even in the darkness swirling around my room, her eyes glinted. Goose flesh rose, but not from the cold.

Suddenly I didn’t feel as safe with Evira. I wished to throw her, cast her from my arms. But something tied me to her, refusing to let her go. Maybe it was that I had her for so long, although now I couldn’t exactly recall when, I remember her presence at my fifth birthday party. Twelve years never felt so long ago. Or maybe it was simply the frostbite kicking in, making my bones chilled, the muscles too frozen.

My mind was too clouded, the hunger pains growing in my stomach. My throat hurt from dehydration and the biting temperatures. Evria gazed at me, the faint, sowed smile seeming to grow on her lips. The lifeless eyes suddenly looked full, the lump of a body appeared to breathe.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, the chill from her stare was suddenly slicing through to my heart and lungs. My breath was cut short, catching in my throat. I tried to calm myself, blaming the eeriness of the doll on my imagination. Simply a trick of the wind, or the rain drops cast an odd shadow.

Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something, or someone, wasn’t right. That something was watching me. This last thought make me sit bolt-upright in bed, my heart pounding, adrenaline pumping through my mind. The closet, my mind raced.

My closet door was slightly ajar, the empty and barren walls seemed to sway with the breeze. I lowered my gaze to the bottom of the closet door, silently pleading to not see a nightmare, crouching, laying in wait. There's nothing. The brief wave of panic gently and slowly starts to recede, my breath becoming more even, but my heart rate wouldn’t slow. My hair continued to stand on end. I couldn’t shake the odd, creeped out feeling. But I also couldn’t pinpoint the source.

I feel something twitch on my arm, a once soft linen, now scratchy with age. The touch evolved, turning from fabric to flesh, the grip tightening on my bony wrist. The fear I once had evaporates, a feeling of calm replacing the ice in my veins. I stare blankly ahead until the girl in front of me sits up, wearing a gray and red tattered dress. Now I am the rags, the linen and straw. I shrink, smiling dully back at her. She giggles, whirling me around. “Didn’t I make everything better?”