Once upon a time, a book at bedtime would lull your little ones softly to slumber, but now kids are not only craving ghastly tales of gore – they’re writing them too. BooksPlus and Apparel Group have published two volumes of spooky stories which reveal kids’ fascination with blood and guts, as well as a deep suspicion of tall buildings. Time Out Kids meets some of the authors.
Pheobe Toothill was just 10 years old and a pupil at Jumeirah Primary School (JPS) when she wrote the grisly tale A Grave Situation. ‘I like writing all kinds of stuff. I like the way words hang together and it’s good to work out how all the parts of the story tie in,’ she told Time Out Kids. ‘Sometimes I dream stories and I write them down. Sometimes I get flashes in the middle of maths, but don’t tell [the teacher] Miss Hosking! I’ve written quite a few short stories and now I’m writing a book about a girl who can talk to animals. So far I’m up to page 76, but I don’t know how long it will be in the end. I want to be an author like JK Rowling or Michelle Paver. But I don’t want to have my picture taken. If I become famous I’ll be like Victoria Beckham and get a body double to do my photos.’
A Grave Situation
by Pheobe Toothill
‘Edward, I’m not sure this is legal,’ a stout boy of 15 whispered anxiously. ‘Relax, no one will find us. Now, pass the shovel,’ a smooth voice from the darkness replied. No one moved. Edward was impatient. ‘Henry,’ he whispered commandingly. Henry groped in the darkness. At last he handed a rusty shovel to Edward. Henry watched as his friend dug a hole in the moist soil. Edward paused. ‘It won’t kill you,’ he whispered angrily. Henry quickly turned and scrambled around. There was a loud grunt as he tripped over a grave stone. Edward shook his head and went back to digging. A few moments later Henry joined him. The two boys worked into the night. They had been working for over an hour when Henry broke the silence.
‘Who are we digging up this time?’ he enquired a little harshly. ‘Mary Prescott. Want to know how she died?’ Edward didn’t wait for an answer. ‘They say she was against our Monarch, the great King Henry. Anyway, mother said that the death deliverers tied a pole to each of her wrists then dunked her. They dunked her seven times, the last time they did that, they say she screamed: ‘I shall rest in peace or you sha-..’ but then they pushed her down. She struggled and died.’ Edward was getting excited. ‘Stop!’ Henry whispered pleadingly. Edward obeyed for once and they worked on in silence. It was almost witching hour when Edward lowered himself into the hole they had so laboriously dug. He passed the body to Henry who dragged it into a box. Both boys pulled the box to an abandoned shed one field away from the graveyard. They crept inside and hauled the body onto an old table….
Edward shook himself and picked up the largest knife, his striking blue eyes glinting wickedly as he slashed open Mary Prescott’s chest. Henry left, mumbling that he couldn’t stay long, but Edward didn’t listen. He was too busy pulling out organs from the corpse. Edward was slowing down and when tiredness finally overcame him, he fell into a chair, his head rolling back as he fell into a deep sleep.
Edward could hear wailing noises coming from the corpse. A ghostly pale hand rose out of the slash in Mary’s chest, followed by a white body. ‘No,’ Edward whispered as rough, dirty hands tumbled round a wicked but beautiful face. A grin spread across the floating figure’s face as she spotted Edward. ‘Ahhhhh,’ she said, her voice floated like air. ‘You are the one that disturbed my silent vigil!’ She twirled in her dirty white dress. ‘Well, I will kill you now, peace breaker.’ With that, Mary dived down and her hands were thrust into Edward’s chest. He began to disintegrate, his hair turned to ash, and when Mary twirled away, only Edwards’ skeleton was left. ‘Now,’ Mary said, ‘I shall rest in peace and you shall die.’ The funeral was held a week later.
Nikhil Ladwa, 12, from Old Town (pictured above), wrote Death Strike when he was just 11 and attending English College. A particularly gruesome story of murder filled with slashed stomachs and spilling guts, it’s way too blood-thirsty to publish here.
‘I suppose my story is quite scary, but I’m writing for my age group. I don’t think it’s a sign that anything is wrong with me! I’ve always liked gory stuff. I don’t really like horror movies but I love horror stories. Horror is the best because there’s loads of action and there’s always a twist in the tale. In my story the pet dies, then the friend, then it’s you who dies – it sort of gets higher and higher. I had a budgie, it was a gift for my birthday, but it died. My mum left it outside and the cat killed it. When my Dad read this story he said he would definitely not get me any more pets!’
Time Out Kids particularly liked this cautionary tale, by James Stagman of JESS Jumeirah, which won first prize in the age seven-10 category.
The Sky Goblins
by James Stagman
One cold and misty evening, Ahmed, a construction worker, was doing the night shift. His task was to fix the electrics on the 300th floor of the Burj Dubai. The air was misty and stuffy. He got goose bumps thinking about how high he was. Suddenly, all the power from the building got cut off. He was stuck! The lift would not work if there was no power and the stairs were not yet completed. He jumped as he felt a cold, clammy hand grip his arm. It sent shivers up and down his arm. He was roughly pulled to the middle of the building, and then thrown into the middle of a group of shadowed figures that were cackling and laughing. After what seemed like hours, but was probably only minutes, a form stepped forward and spoke in a deep, booming voice.
‘I am the leader of the Sky Goblins and I send you and your kind a warning. You are invading my kingdom. You must tell the architects that if anyone goes higher than the 301st floor then they will be cursed.’ Then as suddenly as it began all the lights flickered on and the goblins disappeared. Ahmed thought that he had imagined it, or maybe he had fallen asleep as it had been 14 hours since he had last slept. Because of this he did not tell anyone and he tried not to think of it.
One year later, on the 303rd floor, a family was getting ready for Halloween in their apartment. Would you like to be there?
‘BooksPlus Scary Tales’ Volume I and Volume II are published by Apparel Group. They cost Dhs49 each with all profits donated to the Dubai Autism Centre.