The Blueprint

Winner of Campfire Story Contest

The MHS Blueprint is proud to announce that Ashley Stahl has won the Campfire Story Contest! To request your gift card, please email [email protected] and request where you would like your gift card to.  

We at the Blueprint would like to thank every applicant’s participation and we enjoyed reading all the stories. 

Below is Ashley’s story titled Insanity’s Claws

Clustering together, four teenagers ventured into the woods, dark and eerie. Two were stuck to each other like magnets, shivering from both the cold and their paranoia. Night fell upon the group quickly, but the usual blanket of stars was shielded by the stretching branches of the canopy above.

“Okay, enough, let’s go back,” one whined, clutching the other’s arm with a steel grip.

“We’re just at the edge of the forest,” a boy, holding a flashlight, scoffed. He pointed it in their eyes, earning a huff of annoyance. He giggled and turned back, pointing the ray of light further.

“Mary,” Caroline whispered, still clinging to the other girl’s arm. “I’m scared.”

“I know,” Mary sighed back. “But it’ll be okay. These woods aren’t too deep, so there shouldn’t be any predators.”

“I know that,” Caroline hissed. “I’m just…”

“Spit it out,” Mary said, though not unkindly.

“I’m scared of the dark.” Mary swallowed.

“It’s okay Mary, I’ll protect you.” Logan jeered at his younger sister.

“Shut up Logan, you’re irrelevant and no one likes you,” Caroline retorted after she heard Mary sharply inhale.

“Wow, rude.” Logan placed a hand on his heart, feigning offense.

“You guys are so annoying,” Callum complained from the back, dragging his feet.

“Aw, but you love me,” Logan called, turning around and flashing a grin. Callum just rolled his eyes in response.

Abruptly, Logan came to a stop, pointing his flashlight around. The rest of the group stopped behind him, looking around in confusion.

“Why’d we stop?” Callum called, standing on his tip-toes to survey the area. Caroline wrapped her arms around Mary in comfort as the girl swayed uncomfortably. She whispered to Mary, attempting to distract her.

“Um… I dunno. Maybe we should turn back,” Logan said, turning back to the group with a grim expression on his face.

“Logan, what’s wrong?” Mary asked, her voice quivering at the change of mood.

“Nothing,” he replied softly, patting her hair and turning her around. Mary glanced over her shoulder in confusion, pointing her own flashlight in the distance. Her eyes grew wide and she immediately felt sick, bending over and retching.

“Mary?!” Caroline’s voice grew loud, and she scooped Mary’s hair back.

“Let’s go,” Logan said, this time more firm.

“Logan? What happened?” Callum lowered his voice, looking to the other boy with wide eyes.

“It’s, uh…” Logan looked away, struggling to form the words. Callum frowned, debating for a moment before pointing his own flashlight into the distance.

“O-Oh,” Callum stuttered, his throat feeling rather dry. Caroline, who had looked over in burning curiosity, squeezed her eyes shut.

“Oh my god,” she whispered softly, mostly to herself. “Poor Mary.”

A figure hung in the distance, a rope snaked around its neck. It’s complexion was pale and lifeless, with bloodied fingers and broken nails. It stared at the ground with open eyes and an unforgiving gaze.

“Mary,” it whispered. Mary burst into tears, sobs racking her body. She screamed in terror as it chanted her name, its voice crescendoing into the night.

“Mary,” a voice said beside her, much clearer than the phantom calling out to her.

“C-Caroline,” she reached out to the girl, clawing at her desperately. She allowed Caroline to envelop her in her arms, taking comfort in the girl’s whispers.

Logan looked at his sister with great concern, taking a sharp breath before urging the group forward. To his dismay, they walked slowly. Paranoia even edged at him now, causing him to take Callum’s hand. The boy looked at him sympathetically. The two girls huddled together and walked in front of them, a disturbed Mary dragging her feet.

Worriedly, Caroline peers into Mary’s eyes, and the other stares back at her with an unfamiliar look. It disturbed Caroline to the core, sending a chill down her spine that raised the hairs on her arms.

“Mary,” the hanging figure calls to her, desperation growing in its deafening volume. “Save me.”

“I can’t,” she mumbles, hands shaking.

“What?” Caroline asks gently, trying to pull sanity into the girl. But Mary was slipping away from her, slipping away from reality.

“Caroline,” she snaps her head towards the girl in a sudden movement. She drops to her knees, raking her hands along the forest floor and collecting rocks. She plucked them from the dirt, meeting Caroline’s eyes as she reached out for her hand, turning over her palm. Wordlessly, she placed the rocks into her hand, wrapping her fingers around them. “For you.”

“T-Thank you?” Caroline whispered, frightened by Mary’s behavior. Callum and Logan watched the exchange, sharing a look of confusion and fear.

Mary watched the girl expectantly, but Caroline didn’t know what she wanted.

“Caroline,” Mary said, her voice echoing in a foreign tone. Mary reached out again, grabbing the girl’s chin and pulling her mouth open. Caroline struggled against Mary’s grip, her hands ripping at Mary’s hands, but she was unable to close her mouth. It was as if she were possessed, inhuman strength coursing through her.

“M-Mary?”

Mary scooped up the rocks in Caroline’s palm with her free hand, turning them between her fingers for a moment before dropping them in Caroline’s mouth.

“Mary!-” Logan yelled, stepping forward, grabbing his sister’s arm. “What are you doing?”

Mary ripped her arm from Logan’s grasp and poured the rocks into Caroline’s mouth, shutting it when she could fit no more. Mary removed her hand from Caroline’s chin, and the girl immediately spat out the rocks, coughing to find her breath. Mary frowned, fiery anger in her eyes.

“Why didn’t you keep my gift?” Mary’s fists shook with rage. “I need to save him. It’s the only way.” She bent down to collect more rocks, exasperated as Logan started to pull her from the ground. “Stop it!” She screamed. “What are you doing? Don’t you want me to save him?”

“What are you talking about?” Logan yelled back, still gripping her arm.

“He needs his soul back,” Mary explained, her eyes as wide as saucers. “Will you give him his soul, Logan? Oh, will you? Please?”

“No,” Logan said, his eyes hard. “Callum, call the police or something.”

Callum, who had been checking on Caroline, looked up and nodded, fishing his phone out of his pocket. Mary started shrieking, launching herself at Logan. She threw him to the ground, grabbing a large rock and bashing his head with it. He screamed for her to stop, violently thrashing underneath her. Caroline rushed forward, trying to pull her off, as Callum dialed for the police.

“Mary, Mary! Stop!” Caroline cried, practically dislocating Mary’s arm with the force in which she was pulling. Though, Mary paid no mind to her, and continued to slam the rock onto Logan’s head.

Callum spoke urgently with the police, fear stuttering in his voice. Logan was now still, his eyes half-closed and his lips parted slightly. Blood ran down his face, blooming from somewhere beneath his mop of dark hair. Caroline broke into a sob, collapsing on the forest bed and weakly pulling at Mary’s arm. Mary finally stopped, setting the blood-covered stone down gently. She turned to Caroline with a smile.

“We can save him,” she whispered soothingly, cupping Caroline’s face. Caroline just sobbed harder, not comprehending Mary’s words. Mary looked up at Callum, her expression turning sour. “You were trying to stop me. But, it’s okay now.” She stood, offering her hand to Caroline and frowning when the crying girl didn’t take it. She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, only then glancing at her bloodied hands. She stared at them for a moment, tilting her head as she turned them over.

“Mary,” the figure called to her, and she gazed over to it. “All of them.”

Mary frowned, but she understood. Obediently, she turned to Callum with a bright smile. “Don’t cry, Callum. You can join him,” she stretched out her hand, a silent offer. Callum looked to her hand with eyes full of tears, then locked eyes with her. He shook his head, backing away. Mary sighed, stooping to the ground and retrieving her rock. “I wasn’t asking.”

The police arrived sometime later, shutting their white car doors and stepping out at the edge of the forest. Red and blue lights flashed blindingly from their cars, though they didn’t mind it. They shortly withdrew their guns and looked out into the forest, using flashlights to aid them. It was an unusual type of silence. The only noise heard from the group was the shuffling of their bodies and occasional call from the funny little devices clipped onto their pockets. In contrast, the forest wasn’t at all silent. Crickets chirped in the nearby grass, an owl cooed, and the static of night filled the air.

When the group moved forward, deeper into the woods, they came across an area of dirt which had looked disturbed. There were indents in the packed dirt where big stones should be, but weren’t. The police dismissed the sight, venturing forward. They didn’t get too far before they pointed their flashlights into the distance, seeing five figures hanging in the distance. Four teenagers and one man. The man had broken nails and bloodied hands, most likely trying to prevent his death and getting out of the noose. The teenagers, though, were an odder sight. Their eyes were empty, sockets filled with rocks. Upon closer inspection, it would be noticed that there were stones lodged in their throats.

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The Gold Standard for Student News at Mariemont High School
Winner of Campfire Story Contest