This latest edition of their contest was "Round 5" - Round 6 will be in December. For Round 5, submitters were to create a story that started with the line "Some people swore that the house was haunted" and ended with the line "Nothing was ever the same again after that."
Here is a link to the story that won.
And here is the story that I WOULD have submitted had I known about this in time. (I will, however, be ready for the next contest.)
Louis C. Lohman
Some people swore that the house was haunted. Of course, their information was second or third hand - someone knew someone who had heard this or seen that. Somebody's brother or cousin or other shirttail relative had felt something when they'd walked past the house or swore they'd seen some apparition in the windows on a moonlit night. But none of them really knew. Not like I did.
I first set foot in that house when I was 8 years old. I had heard about the 'ghosts' and I had come to see for myself. I had just crept in the front door when I was startled by someone right behind me. I turned to face a lad no older than myself, also, apparently, sneaking around the house.
"What are you doing here", he asked, softly.
"Looking for ghosts. You?"
"Yeah. Me, too. Seen any?"
"Nah. I just got here. You scared the daylights outta me."
"Sorry. Who are you", he asked.
"I'm Johnny. But everybody calls me 'Stinky'. Who are you?"
"My name is Charles Micheal Ogden, but everybody just calls me 'Whizzer'."
"Pleased to meetcha, Whizzer."
"Yeah. Me, too. Let's go this way."
He led me down the hall that ran through the middle of the house all the way to the back. He rounded a corner about halfway down the hall and was out of sight. I hurried to catch up and rounded the corner myself, only to run smack into a wall.
I staggered back a step or two, rubbing my now sore nose, and as the tears cleared from my eyes, I began to realize that the corner led into an alcove - just a little setback, like where you'd put a pedestal with a bust of George Washington or something. There wasn't anywhere to go. Then I knew. I understood what Charles Michael Ogden was. And I peed my pants.
I heard laughter behind me as I headed down the hall and out the door as fast as my little legs would carry me. I didn't stop running until I'd gotten all the way home.
Normally, you'd think that would be the end of the story. But it wasn't. I went back. In fact, I went back many, many times. Whizzer and I got to be great friends. And over time the house got to feeling like home to me. Sometimes, Whizzer and I would talk for hours on end. Other times, we'd just sit there. Together.
The house had become a refuge for me. A place I could go to and find comfort and friendship. Or solitude, if that's what I needed. Whizzer always seemed to know just what it was I needed.
The fire came sudden and fast. When I saw it, the whole house was engulfed in flames. The firemen couldn't save it. They hosed down the houses around it so the sparks wouldn't set them on fire. And they just let it burn.
Later, when the fire was out, and the firemen were putting all their hoses and equipment away, I stood and watched as a strong wind came up and blew all the smoke and ash and Charles Michael Ogden away. Nothing was ever the same again after that.