2011 GOLD WINNER - 9 Years and Under

The house was new to Jennifer. Her family had moved in the previous week and she still hadn’t got used to it. It was a very old house, with a basement and an attic. The rooms inside the house were big and dusty, with hard wooden floors. A new house also meant a new school and she hadn’t quite fitted in yet, so she preferred to come home early instead of hanging around in the playground with the other kids.

Jennifer let herself in to the house. Both her parents had jobs that meant they worked long hours. And anyway, she was thirteen – she could look after herself.

As the door shut she walked into the kitchen. She picked up a magazine on the side and began to read it. After a while, she played on her Nintendo DS but she soon got bored. Her parents should have been back thirty minutes ago. She decided to make herself some tea but, because she wasn’t a very good cook, she just had biscuits and fruit.

By this time, her parents were an hour late. Jennifer was getting worried, so she tried the phone but there was no answer from any of the numbers she tried. She thought about going round to the neighbours’ houses but she realized she hadn’t met any of them yet and remembered what she’d been taught about strangers.

At half past nine she went to bed. The house felt creepy and outside the security light went on. She peered out but there was nothing there. She drew the curtains again and rested her head back onto the pillow. A couple of hours went by and Jennifer began to cry. She wondered where her parents were. The hours seemed to drag on for longer in the dark.

She must have fallen asleep because she was woken by a loud banging noise coming from downstairs. She looked at her alarm clock – 3:02 a.m. By now she was really scared, but yet she couldn’t resist going to see what it was. Jennifer quietly crept out of her bedroom. As she stepped down the stairs, they creaked. She cursed herself. Then the banging noise stopped. Jennifer crept into the living room. There was nobody there. The empty house was silent.

To try and fill the house with noise, Jennifer picked up the remote and switched on the T.V. All she saw on the screen was a picture of her house. She could see herself standing in the living room, watching the T.V. Jennifer tried to change the channel but every one was showing the same picture of her house. She changed it one more time and this time she swore that there was something different about the picture. Then she realized. She could still see herself on the screen, but behind the image of the girl was a man.

Jennifer turned around. The lights went out and she screamed.