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Time for a chilling tale: Special Halloween round of 'You Finish the Story'

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Calling all fiction writers: Here’s another chance to write a story.

We’re back with “You Finish the Story,” a River Valley Media Group initiative in partnership with the La Crosse Public Library and the Winona Public Library.

This special edition calls for flash fiction with the most chilling portents, shocking turns and creepy-crawling scene settings. In the vein of the season, you’ll have to finish the story that is started below and send it in by noon on Monday, Oct. 25, to qualify for a spook-tacular Halloween publishing.

In this fifth round of submissions, our window of length remains within or near a limit of 1,000 words. This does not include the words of the prompt.

Once you’re ready, simply send your completed story to letters@lacrossetribune.com, letters@dailynews.com or letters@chippewa.com by noon on Monday, Oct. 25. Please include your name, city or town and contact information. Include your age and school if a student.

You are welcome to include photos and/or a video to help illustrate your story.

If you prefer to mail, send it to You Finish the Story, La Crosse Tribune, 1407 St. Andrews St., La Crosse, WI 54603.

Or you can drop off entries at the La Crosse Public Library or mail them to La Crosse Public Library c/o Barry McKnight, 800 Main St. La Crosse, WI 54601. You can also drop off submissions at the Winona Public Library’s original 5th Street entrance.

Our judges will select the winning story, which will be printed in the La Crosse Tribune, Winona Daily News and Chippewa Herald, along with our weekly publications.

Please contact Bob Heisse, executive editor, at bob.heisse@lee.net with any questions or suggestions.

Here’s the start of the story:

It’s a dark and stormy night.

Wind howls, shutters shudder and leaves skitter across every street and sidewalk.

Not a drop of rain has fallen, yet, as trick-or-treating begins as the sun nears setting. The suburbs buzz with knots of costumed children and harried parents, raring for a sugar fix in the wake of the past stifling year.

Downtown has already grown rowdy, as adults young and old flit from corner to corner. Neon orange, purple and acidic green mottle their apple-cheeked faces with an over-saturated glow.

The only stillness is found in darkened theaters and houses strung with string and batting in the guise of spider-webs, broken periodically by the jolt and squeal of a jump-scare. So-called “haunted” houses.

All is well.

Well ... except for me.

Because I’m a ghost.

And I have some unfinished business to take care of tonight ...

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