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Ghost Challenge - The Unfinished Jigsaw Puzzle

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Old 10-28-2014, 01:53 PM
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Default Ghost Challenge - The Unfinished Jigsaw Puzzle


I love this shi ---- stuff

this is called

The Unfinished Jigsaw Puzzle. (1500 words, not including the title)



The new baby I’m going to bring into the house, in less than a month, forced us to search for more room for our other three children. The quest brought us to several answers to our problems about the old house, the most pertinent of which is that in 1890 they made very small bedrooms. The only real option we have is to clean out the attic. We know it’s finished with some very nice wood on the walls that taper upward into a cathedral type ceiling. But, I don’t think any of us have been up there since we looked through the place when we bought it in 1998, twelve years ago.

The dusty uninviting attic has large painted over windows on both ends that make strange shadows when the sun shines through them. Our first task is to get that paint off those windows and let some light into the attic.

It took some time with razor scrapers to get all the paint off the glass. The light revealed a new problem, spider webs. We removed them but it’s becoming a daily ritual to remove the spider webs that are rebuilt each night.

We eventually got the windows to open so we could air the attic out and began to spray for the spiders.

The work isn’t really that hard but in my condition I often smell things the others don’t and I’m occasionally sickened by the smell of something long dead.

Our reward was a very nice room about 16 feet wide and the length of the house, some 40 feet. The side walls were only about four foot high and that is going to cause us some challenges but we were very happy to have the extra space.

The third story view of the large pond and the water birds that come and go daily is very impressive. The freeway view out the other window gives our two older twin boys a great deal of pleasure as they watch the different types of cars and trucks pass. Their favorites are the emergency vehicles.

Our daughter, Joani, wants to have her fifth birthday party in the new family room. The only real problem we have with the room is the electricity. It only has two hanging bulbs and they require you to pull a string, at the bulb, to turn them on. My husband is currently looking into rewiring the place with light switches and receptacles.

He calls the four foot wall a knee wall and says there is a space behind the wall where he can run the wiring.

He tore, as gently as possible, part of the knee wall out this morning. He brushed away spider webs and put his head into the space as he shined the flashlight down the tunnel. He laughed and then backed out; standing and brushing away more spider webs. He told me there were things in there. I asked if it was a giant spider or something.

He just smiled, “No, it looks like old toys.” He’s certain that at some point there must have been a way into the storage space that didn’t require the wall to be torn apart.

The space was easily large enough for him to crawl down. After he donned coveralls and knee pads from his work truck he put on a pair of gloves and a ski mask. He went inside; leaving me to feed the electrical cord on his drop light.

It was several anxious minutes later that he began to pound on the wall about halfway down. I walked that direction and just as I got to the pounding a door swung open and I screamed. He must have jumped and bumped his head; he rubbed his head as he emerged from the newly discovered doorway.

I got another whiff of the long dead thing. I shook it off. I had mentioned it so many times that he was tired of hearing about it. I laughed as I told him I was sorry I screamed but… He interrupted, “It’s alright I was a little spooked in there anyway and well; I think I smelled that dead smell you’ve been talking about.” We shrugged it off as a raccoon or something that had crawled up there and died.

Over the next few days clad in long sleeve shirts and pants that were duck taped around the bottom of the leg we began to clean out the storage areas in the attic.

The dead smell seemed to come and go; the twins could now smell too. We looked everywhere for the source of the smell. But just couldn’t find it.

The toys are being brought out one at a time and they are fantastic, well preserved and about 1930 vintage. There is a rocking horse, a wind up carousel, and many other things. My favorites are the porcelain dolls with beautiful but dusty lace dresses.

Joani tapped me on the shoulder “Mommy, Maggie says for you not to break her stuf…” She looked away as if someone had called her. She smiled, “Sorry; ok, I’ll say what you said.” She turned back to me and started again. “Maggie says if you damage her toys, she shall become angry.”


I couldn’t really get my head around what Joani said, and the words she used. To tell the truth I didn’t want to think about it. We cleaned the toys carefully and put them on display throughout the house.

One of the less impressive pieces was a wooden jigsaw puzzle. It had a heavy backboard and the pieces had to have been made individually. It had a nice picture of a farmhouse with animals. The top left corner had been stained and I couldn’t get it off without destroying the puzzle. I also think Maggie’s warning not to damage her things popped into my mind.

The puzzle, of 65 pieces, is complete except for one piece up where the stain is.

I suffered through the play between Joani and Maggie, her invisible friend, for the next two weeks. I often wondered where Joani had found the words she used to warn me about damaging the toys. But admitting that Maggie may be something I didn’t believe in kept me from approaching the taboo subject.

It was just before Halloween when Joani came to me with a request I had been waiting to hear. “Mommy, Maggie would like to leave.”

I took a deep breath to calm myself. “Is there something I can do to help?”

She nodded, “Yes, but she says it will be scary.” She added, “But she needs you to do this so she can leave.”

I asked, not wanting to know, “What I needed to do?”

Joani smiled, “Just find the missing puzzle piece.”

The message was then relayed that it was in the crawlspace in the attic.

I crawled into the space in spite of my enormously large belly. The space was now free of spiders and filling quickly with junk. I moved toward the back wall as I was directed.

As I got closer and closer, the dead smell again filled my nostrils. It became stronger and stronger as scenes flashed in my head.

A little blond girl – Margaret, yes, no, yes Maggie. I started to cry as the worst fear I could imagine crept into me. It made my muscles not want to move and cold shivers move in waves all over my body.

I saw the loose board, and reached to pull it away from the wall. I touched the board and another flash. Maggie was being thrown sideways from a table where she was working the puzzle. Then the corner of the heavy backboard smashed down into her forehead.

This had to end. I pulled with all my might to remove the board. I knew what I was going to find behind that board. But Maggie wanted release and I was determined to give it to her.

The board came loose and there it was – the skull of a child. I had to cry, it was overwhelming. Attached to the forehead in what remained of the skin was the puzzle piece.

Maggie’s face was suddenly in mine, “Please finish the puzzle quickly. It's almost time for me to go.” I pulled the puzzle piece loose and worked my way out of the crawlspace.

I struggled to the kitchen where the puzzle was; took a deep breath. “Maggie, are you sure?” She appeared to me in full form, “Yes.” I put the puzzle piece in place. She smiled as she touched my pregnant belly, “Thank you, Mommy. I can go now because my new body is ready.” She vanished.

Joani was sort of sad to see her friend go.

I didn’t have too much time to think about it, my water broke and I felt my first labor pain.

Eight hours later, with my husband at my side, our daughter Margaret, Maggie was born. She is as beautiful; and may very well be her namesake.

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Last edited by max crash; 10-29-2014 at 07:58 AM..
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Old 10-29-2014, 03:37 AM
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Default Wow guys!

This is some quality work. I would love to discuss it more in depth, as i am really enjoying both your writing styles. If you guys could do me one more favor (I promised the admin that all laws of the land shall be followed) Can you please start your own thread in the Prompts and Challenges section with each of your works and the title Halloween Ghost Story Challenge? That way we can discuss each of your work individually in that thread! Thanking you! I am loving this work! Totally gave me the chills. I will have mine posted by tomorrow.
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Old 10-29-2014, 06:59 AM
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No worries, give me a few minutes and I will split these off into their own threads.

Edit: Just to explain, the Prompt & Challenges section has its own rules which summarise to make a new thread for each entry, stating the challenge/prompt/etc number/name and the works title in the thread description. As such I have split of the two entries so far into their own threads.
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Last edited by Tau; 10-29-2014 at 07:15 AM..
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Old 10-31-2014, 06:07 PM
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I resisted the urge to read this until tonight, and I have to say I'm glad. The ending was sublime and sweet. The scariest part for me were all the spiderwebs.
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Old 11-01-2014, 01:44 AM
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Default Awesome!!

I really enjoyed this work. It was a great build up, and just as I was afraid I might be disappointed by some cookie-cutter ending about murdered children, you completely surprised me. I loved it. I read both of these stories to my boyfriend last night as a way to scare ourselves for Halloween. We both got a great little thrill.
I was at first going to say something about the way you break up your paragraphs, but then I decided I really liked it. It's your style and I think you are talented. The story had everything it needed, just enough background to understand what's going on, without getting too heavy handed with it (A problem I always face-hate that exposition), Suspense, developed characters, I am very glad you posted this one. looking forward to more of your work. I really enjoy doing new work for here, what's our next project?
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Old 11-01-2014, 09:21 AM
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NaNoWriMo -- writing a 50,000 word story in the month of November, this is the first time I've tried this and it may not work out. but I am going to give it a try.

Max
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Old 11-03-2014, 03:38 AM
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A brilliant piece Max. It had all the right spooky components: the attic, porcelain dolls, rocking horse, spider webs, ghost girl, smell of death and, the unfinished business of the puzzle etc....Good luck with NaNoWriMo. ;-)
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Old 11-06-2014, 11:57 AM
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trying to get a picture to post
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if you're writing over your readers head - tum etiam, ut graece scribens --- the secret of success changes;the truth of failure remains constant; if you try to please everyone you will fail.
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Old 12-18-2014, 03:03 AM
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Oh twist ending! HA! So glad you put the kabosh on the tired dead kid thing, and went with something creepier. Brava.
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Old 01-03-2015, 06:58 AM
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This is pretty interesting. I love the twist ending when Maggie was actually her baby.
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