A special Halloween episode featuring 5 spooky stories written by students aged 11-17, including a terrifying musical awakening, a horrifying futuristic drug, a demonic yoga class, a pizza you don’t want to order, and a phone call you don’t want to answer. PG. Let the kids listen in.
Listen to the full episode right here or from your favourite streaming platform.
Read the full (ish) episode transcript. (No story texts — I don’t have the digital rights to those, just audio rights. So you’ll have to listen.)
[0:00] Episode intro
[1:15] Story One Intro
Have you ever been babysitting when there’s a crazed killer on the loose? Whenever that happens to me, I make sure to lock all the doors and windows. But today you’ll hear a story about a forgetful babysitter in a house with too many doors. And something is about to sneak inside.
[3:20] “Bat, Axe, Racket” by Jacob Tremblay
Maggie was out on her first babysitting job in the big house down the street. The house had a front door, a back door, and a side door. And Maggie forgot to lock all of them….
[5:55] About the Author
Jacob Tremblay is 11 years old and he has never babysat, and he can’t remember ever being babysat, but he has read scary stories about babysitting…
[7:00] Story Two Intro
Have you ever fallen asleep standing up? Ever slept over at a friend’s or relative’s house or in a hotel and woken from a dream and you had no idea where you were? You’re still half in the dream and all you know is that this is not your room. Well, today you’ll hear a story about someone who wakes and has a very hard time figuring out where she is. And maybe she would rather not know.
Tick. Painted eyes flutter open. She’s standing upright, balancing on the tips of her toes, one arm raised over her head and the other extended. Her left arm is caked with something—dirt? Dust? Where is she? Tick. Tick….
[14:10] About the Author
Prisha Mehta is a high school senior from Millburn, New Jersey, with many publications to her credit. “The Music Box” was first published in Blue Marble Review. Prisha has known since the third grade that she wanted to be a writer. And she is fabulous.
[15:15] Story Three Intro
Have you ever struggled with depression or anxiety or guilt? Maybe you did something you felt so bad over that you just couldn’t bring yourself to face the world? Well, today you’ll hear a story about someone in the future who tries a new experimental method for forcing herself to face the world. But maybe she shouldn’t. Maybe she should just stay in the basement.
[16:00] “Ear to Ear” by Owen Fitzpatrick
When my inbox trilled like a sparrow, telling me I had mail, I had no idea what to expect. Practically no one emailed me anymore, after what I had done. I just stayed in the basement…
[22:00] About the Author
Owen Fitzpatrick is a 13-year-old student in grade nine at Lisgar Collegiate High School in Ottawa whose advice to any young writer is: “Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. Just start writing.” “Ear to Ear” was a First Place Winner in the Ottawa Public Library’s Awesome Authors youth writing contest in the 9-12 age category, and it was published in Pot-pourri 2019. Thanks to Owen and to the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association, which publishes Pot-pourri, for giving permission to feature the story on this show.
[23:50] Story Four Intro
Have you ever taken a yoga class that was just a little beyond your flexibility? And you just couldn’t wait for the end relaxation so that you could rest? Well, you’re about to hear a story about a couple of very unusual creatures who take a yoga class. Thanks to yoga teacher Patricia Dickinson for the inspiration for the guided meditation in the background to this story, and thanks to the author, Kayleigh Williams, for allowing that liberty with her story.
[24:45] “Demon Yoga” by Kayleigh Williams
Lie down in a comfortable position. Let your arms rest by your side…
Barbas and Furfur were two demons who’d been taking yoga together for a year. They’d started with an introductory session, then they moved on to Beginner One, Beginner Two, Beginner Three, and now they were just starting an Intermediate class….
[30:55] About the Author
Kayleigh Williams went to a yoga class with her mother and “I could not lie still during the end relaxation and I still don’t understand how anyone can relax lying down with their eyes closed in a dimly lit room full of total strangers who could be psycho killers or demons for all you know.”
[31:55] Story Five Intro
Have you ever gone up to a stranger’s door, maybe you were collecting bottles or selling lawn care services, and you ring the bell and you have no idea who’s going to answer that door? You have no idea what you might be interrupting. Well, you’re about to hear a story where the door is answered by someone in the middle of a summoning.
[32:35] “Deliverance” by Sarah Ham
Phil shuffled the pizza boxes, desperately trying to liberate one of his arms….
[38:35] About the Author
That story won Second Prize in the Ottawa Public Library’s Awesome Authors contest a couple of years ago in the 15-17 age category, and it was first published in Pot-pourri 2017. The author, Sarah Ham, is your average writerly ghost. Sarah’s advice to young writers is to have fun with what you write. “If you enjoy it, so will your readers!” Thanks to the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association for permission to include this story.
[38:00] Time to write your own tale
I’ll be reading another four student stories next week in a special Post-Halloween episode of Cabin Tales. Let today’s stories and the spirit of Halloween inspire you to write something to suit the season. Tune in next week for more.
[40:30] Thanks and curses (monster movie quote); coming up on the podcast
As a Hollywood monster hunter once said, “I’m drawing a line in the sand here. Do not read the Latin.” But who believes in curses? Neewollah Ypaah, young writers, and Dna Sknaht Rof Gninestil.
Tune in next week for Part Two of Spooky Student Stories. You’ll hear about an Air B&B you don’t want to book, a monster’s lair you don’t want to enter, and more great tales from young writers.
On November 13th, it’s Cabin Tales Episode 6: “Begin in the Darkness,” with stories, excerpts, creative writing commentary, prompts, and interviews with guest authors Karen Bass, Kate Inglis, and Chris Jones.
Until then…. Post a link to today’s episode on your social media and share it with all the young writers in your life. And write your own tale. Thanks for listening.
Music in the background of “Demon Yoga” is a brief clip taken from the royalty-free music, “Quiet Time,” by David Fesliyan, from https://www.fesliyanstudios.com. Thank you.
Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at www.catherineausten.com.
Art: The B&W image for this episode is from a wood engraving by Edwin Austin Abbey from Selections from the Poetry of Robert Herrick, 1882.
Publications mentioned in the show:
Blue Marble Review is a quarterly online literary journal showcasing the creative work of young writers ages 13-22. They welcome poetry, fiction, personal essays, travel stories, and opinion pieces as well as art and photography. The goal of the journal is to assemble in each issue, a broad range of voices, perspectives, and life experiences.
Pot-pouri: Since 2007, the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (FOPLA) has been proud to publish pot-pourri, an anthology featuring the winning entries from the Ottawa Public Library’s annual Awesome Authors Youth Writing Contest. Each volume includes bilingual poetry, short stories, and now comics from talented youth authors and artists from the Ottawa community. Buy past years of pot-pourri online.