National English Honor Society (NEHS) members voted on Monday for their favorite submission to the scary story contest. McLean students were challenged to write their scariest story and submit it to NEHS for judging. The winning story was “Teeth,” by junior Annie Przypyszny (read below).
“[The contest] is a fun way to promote a greater writing culture, because I feel like at our school there’s not a lot of creative writing going on,” senior Lucy Zheng, co-manager of NEHS’s Lit Love project, said.
This contest gave students a motivation to practice creative writing, and long-time writers had a chance to show off their skills. Przypyszny has been interested in writing since she was in elementary school, and recently began writing short stories.
“Writing is a great outlet for me, and I plan on continuing to write more,” Przypyszny said.
All of the submissions to the contest were engaging and written really well, according to Beskenis.
“The submissions we received were of such high quality,” NEHS sponsor Lisa Beskenis said. “It was clear that everyone who submitted a story put a lot of creativity, effort and time into writing these wonderfully suspenseful tales.”
The contest has been just one of the ways that NEHS is working to become more involved around the school this year.
“Over the past few years NEHS has become more and more active as an organization,” Beskenis said. “At school students can participate in our schoolwide writing contests, seek extra help from NEHS writing center tutors after school in the library and enjoy our festive, literary-themed bulletin board in the blue hallway.”
Currently, NEHS is holding a contest called “In Winter.” Entries can be poems or stories about winter and must be submitted to B160 by January 20.
The current contest, like the scary story contest, will allow writers a lot of freedom in writing their pieces. For her story, Przypyszny chose to write about vampires.
“I really like horror revolving around vampires, due to my slight obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Przypyszny said. “I knew I wanted to incorporate something vampire-like into my story, but I also wanted the ending to be unexpected… I’ve always liked stories that pull you into a surprising ending and then throw another surprise in as well, which is what I tried to do with ‘Teeth.'”
By Annie Przypyszny
I smelled it. Blood. Thick, pungent, metallic blood. All over my bed sheets and oozing out of my husband’s throat.
“Peter!” I shook him to consciousness. He seemed to be unaware of the two gaping holes in his neck, yawning and stretching himself awake as usual.
“Peter, the sheets!” The blood had soaked through my nightgown and stained its cotton from where I had been curled up in his arms. He saw the blood on me and grabbed my shoulders, patting down my body to find the source, believing it to be mine.
“No, it’s your neck.” He put his hands to the wound and started to run to the bathroom. I followed him to the sink, where he began to inspect the two puncture marks.
“What the hell, did something bite me?” My body was trembling. I had to lean my weight on the towel rack to keep steady.
“Hey, Beth, It’s okay. I’m fine. Look, the bleeding already stopped.” I didn’t realize that I was crying until I felt the tears dripping down my chin. Peter wrapped his arms around me, pulling me into a tight embrace.
“We need to get you to the hospital,” I said, stripping out of my nightgown which was now stiff and cakey. I started to haphazardly gather yesterday’s clothes from the floor and throw them on, but Peter interrupted me.
“Beth, we don’t need to go to the hospital. It was probably just some bug bites that I scratched in my sleep.” I ignored him and started zipping up my jeans. “Look,” he sighed, “I’ll go to the minute clinic on my way to work and get it checked out if that makes you feel better.”
“Fine,” I said, still riddled with worry. “Just come home early tonight and get some rest. It looks like you lost a fair amount of blood.”
As soon as he left, I tore the room apart, searching for any bugs that might be swarming around, biting Peter and I in our sleep. I ripped the sheets off the mattress and turned the pillowcases inside out. Nothing. As I was shaking the covers, I felt a chill. I looked around and saw that our window was wide open. Only just last night I remember shutting it closed.
“So what did the doctor say?” I asked Peter as he got home from work.
“Same as I thought, just a couple bug bites. Must have been right on the vein or something. Says it should heal pretty quickly.”
“That’s funny, because I looked everywhere in our room, and there’s no bugs to be found.”
“I don’t know Beth, maybe they flew somewhere else.” I thought about this for a moment. He was right. It was probably just a couple of insect bites. I don’t know what I was getting so worked up about. Then I remembered.
“Did you happen to open the window at any point last night?”
“Are you kidding? It’s freezing outside,” he put his arms around my waist and kissed my neck. “I wouldn’t want my Beth to catch a cold.”
I tried to hold back a laugh. “I’m serious, whatever happened last night, it really freaked me out.”
“Well if it makes you feel better, I’ll make sure to lock the windows tonight. And spray some bug spray on the bed or something.”
“Fine,” I said, still not quite at ease.
Later that night we settled into bed. Part of me didn’t want to fall asleep, but all the worrying and fretting of the day had left me exhausted. I nuzzled my head into Peter’s shoulder and drifted off.
As I woke the next morning, I found my hair sticking to Peter’s shoulder as I tried to lift my head up. When I saw the dried up blood again, I let out a scream.
Peter jolted awake, feeling at his neck again. The holes had opened themselves back up again at some point in the night, leaving red all over the pillows and my blonde hair.
“Peter,” I started sobbing. “Peter what’s happening to you?”
“It’s fine,” he said. “The scabs probably just opened up.” I could tell in his voice that he was just about as convinced of this as I was.
I looked to the window to find it unlocked and ajar. “Peter, the window!” I was still crying hysterically.
Peter ran to close the window, struggling to stand up due to the loss of blood. “I’m gonna stay home with you today Beth, okay.”
I nodded and went to help him come back into bed.
That night we didn’t sleep. We both stayed wide awake, a frying pan in Peter’s hand and one of his old golf clubs in mine. We sat on edge, flinching at each rustling of the wind, and rushing of a car.
Peter had pushed an old cabinet in front of the window, covering the panes. I wrapped my free arm around his. My teeth were chattering in fright. “What do you think it is,” I whispered to Peter, my breath shaking.
“I’m not sure. Maybe it’s some kind of animal. What do you think?”
I was embarrassed to say. I’d had my suspicions ever since the first morning. “I know it sounds silly, but do you believe in vampires?”
“Beth, it’s not a vampire.”
“But your neck,” I said, gently touching his throat, “the marks look like they were made from teeth.”
“Well, maybe it’s some psychopath cannibal. Whoever or whatever it is, they’re gonna be sorry if they try their luck this time.”
I could tell he was trying to sound confident for me. I knew that he was just as scared as I was on the inside by the sweat on his back and the way he clenched his fists around the handle of the frying pan.
Around four in the morning, Peter gave into his exhaustion and fell asleep. But I didn’t. I stayed up until daybreak, golf club in hand, eyes alert. Empty cans of diet coke cluttered my bedside table. I began to hear noises. Growling noises. Tapping noises. It felt like we weren’t alone.
But by the time the sun came up, nothing had happened. I looked at the wounds on Peter’s neck as he was still asleep and saw that they were beginning to heal. The cabinet remained in front of the window, and when I pushed it away, I saw that the window was closed.
When Peter woke up, he asked me if anything happened.
“Nothing,” I said. “Nothing happened.”
“See, I told you it was just some bugs.”
“No!” I screamed. That couldn’t be it. “Obviously whatever it was knew I was awake and got scared. Peter, I just know it. I heard things. It felt like something was there.”
“Beth, just give it a rest, you’re worrying yourself sick,” he said as he put his arm around me. I pushed him off and hopped off the bed.
“I am not,” I said, putting on my jacket and slippers and grabbing my car keys from my purse.
“Where are you going?”
“To Marley’s. She might still have the video camera that she used to keep in Hallie’s room when she was a baby.”
“A video camera? Beth, just give it a rest. Nothing happened last night, it’s all fine now.”
“I don’t believe that for a second.”
Before bedtime came, I installed the camera in the corner of the room, right in view of the bed. I tossed and turned next to a sleeping Peter, before I finally dozed off.
I woke up to feel it. It was fresh and wet, filming on my forearm.
“Peter! Look!” Peter woke up and ran to the bathroom again, this time grabbing toilet paper to try and subdue the bleeding. The liquid soaked through the cloth, streaming violently.
“Beth, I’m gonna drive myself to the hospital.”
“Drive yourself! Are you crazy?”
“It’s only ten minutes away.”
“No way, I’m taking you.”
“Beth, you need to stay and watch the video.” I looked to the open window and knew that he was right.
I heard the garage door open and close as Peter’s car backed out of the driveway. I grabbed the camera, and sat on the bed.
I was terrified to watch the footage. I didn’t know what to expect to see. But I swallowed my fear and pressed play.
There was a lot of nothing. A lot of us sleeping, and covers rustling. But then I got up. The video showed me walking to the window and slowly opening it. I must have been sleepwalking, I thought. I used to do that when I was little.
Something was strange about my eyes though. The way that they were reflecting light, they almost looked red. I watched as I walked back into bed. But I didn’t go back to sleep.
I felt sick. I almost couldn’t look as I saw myself put my mouth to my husbands neck and clamp down my teeth. By the time I finished, wiping the blood off my face with the pillow, I became ill, vomiting all over the bed.
I stumbled off the covers, confused and disoriented. What was I? I felt in my mouth for fangs but there was only plain incisors.
This couldn’t happen again. I couldn’t have one more morning waking up to my husband’s blood seeping onto my body. I couldn’t watch one more day of him going to work, dizzy and sick, wondering if it would be like this the next day.
I ran down to the garage and rummaged through all of the old boxes and Christmas decorations and spare tires. Then I found it.
I brought Peter’s tool case up to the bathroom, unlatching it and sorting through all the screwdrivers and nuts and bolts until I found what I was looking for. I brought the hammer up to my mouth and took a deep breath.