Writing Contest Winners And Their Stories

Victoria Wolfe, First Year Journalism Student

Laurel Chadwick, Freshman (Provided by Laurel Chadwick)
Isabella Hoffarth, Sophomore

The Yamhill-Carlton Newspaper held a writing contest. We got a few stories and decided on the two winners. Isabella Hoffarth, a sophomore and Laurel Chadwick, a freshman.

Hoffarth’s story is ‘Benches’ and Chadwick’s story is ‘The Intruder’. Below you will find both stories. 

These stories had minor mistakes in them and were well-written. The creativity and description in Hoffarth’s story was attention grabbing and the carefully built suspense in Chadwick’s story was gut twisting. Both of them kept the Newspaper staff interested and kept them reading on.


By Isabella Hoffarth

I sit on a bench and watch, for this is my occupation, that which I have toiled over since my youth. I earned my spot on The Hunters Council, and I shall see to it that I only rise amongst the ranks. 

The asphalt roadways, remnants of the Digital Era, were bare of any life. The ancient brick buildings that surround the streets were covered in posters reading “Follow The Hunter.” The ignorant fools didn’t know there was more than one of us. A constant rain of white ash polluted the sky as fumes from the farm, caught in the brisk breeze, tainted the air even though the town was miles away from it. 

The citizens were abiding by the rules put forth by my father during the Nano Bombings. Oh, what a glorious time of fear and pain. My father and The Hunters Council overthrew the government properly. They eliminated all rebel alliances except one prior to the takeover. The Nano Bombings were their doing, not that the little pests here know that. They stay in line and The Hunter won’t come for them.

Disappointment floods my body, I was looking forward to the addicting power of a hunt tonight. Even so, no rules have been broken, so no blood will be spilled. Unless I…… No, I couldn’t…… But they wouldn’t know the difference. Why is this so troubling? All I have to do is follow someone home after the run bell rings, accuse them of a crime against The Hunter, then slit their throat and gut them like the animal that they are. Lastly, I have to make an example of them, by hanging their rotting corpse up for all to see. I do believe that my plan is flawless, now I only have to wait.

Sixteen and three-quarters of a ring resonated in the small town in Missouri. Work was out and the laborers have come to play. I relax my muscles and begin to drum my fingers on my thighs. I despise this part, the part where I have to act like these miscreant animals, all fidgety and uneducated. My father taught me that fidgeting is a sign of weakness. If I started bouncing my leg, he would shatter my knee cap, if I twitched my fingers, he would break them one at a time. And now I have to partake in these pathetic mannerisms. But alas, I must focus on my task. 

Re-entering the world outside my own conscience I discover a particularly peculiar female. Her strides are encompassed in the same confidence I observe every day in the mirror. The woman’s head is held up high upon her shoulders as a self-satisfied smirk graces her lip. She is far too agreeable to not be partaking in some sort of illicit activity. At this moment I have discovered my prey, and I intend to enjoy this hunt.

The woman treads perfectly straight, not veering off her course once. She keeps her head faced in the direction she is walking, but I can tell she is more focused on her surroundings than what is directly in front of her. Luckily for me, I was trained in the art of remaining out of sight. While she sauntered openly in the setting sun, I remained in the darkness of the shadows. Glancing at my timepiece, it becomes apparent to me that she should have begun her run by now. Minutes pass, and the woman’s strides lengthen, and the speed at which she travels increases, as we make our way out of town. My curiosity is at its summit, and I am officially following someone who has broken the law. 

This continues until the clock rings eighteen times, indicating that it was supper time. The woman stops in a flora-infested clearing about three and a half miles out of town. The usual stench that encompassed the air was smothered by roses and lilacs. Color permeated throughout the entire field, and soft grass lay beneath my feet. It was despicable. The female, however, seemed as though she were finally free, as she plopped down rather ungracefully in the center of the glade. A soft coo escaped her lips, followed by coos sounding in the forest, of which I am still camouflaging myself. Then thirty or so people walked up to the female and joined her. 

The sound of their conversation could be heard from my vantage point, but not the definitive words. I was challenged with the task of getting closer, without getting caught. An idea struck me! I climbed out of my crouching position and leisurely started making my way towards the gathering. Their words became more clear the closer I got to them. I started catching phrases such as, “n three s’nsets” and “kill the farm.” Adrenaline flooded my system, I stumbled upon a rebel meeting, and they are planning their attack. A male, around twenty glances up and notices my presents.

“What are ya do’in here!?” He exclaimed, panic seeping through his voice and anxiety revealing itself upon his filth-covered face. His shriek grasped the attention of all the other members, especially the female I followed. 

I responded the best I could in the same poor dialect he used, “I followed that girl ’ere,” while pointing at the female in the center. The female I indicated to stood and walked over to me.

“What is your name?” She said in a calm, controlled voice, shocking me with her clear speech patterns.

“Duncan Nodens, ma’am”

“And what is your business here Mr. Nodens.”

“I followed yah from town.”

“Yes, I know that Mr. Nodens, but why?”

“Yah looked like yah was up ta some’in.”

“That’s none of your business.” At this point, she started to get a defensive tone in her voice and control her features into a frown. 

I smirked, then reverted to my normal, educated way of speaking, “Oh, I do believe it is, miss.” 

Gasps could be echoed throughout the group and fear entered the girl’s eyes. They knew who I was, and they fell into my snare. For while they were conversing, I used what was left of electric technology, a radio, and contacted my father. The clearing was surrounded.

I lunged for the girl as they finally came to their senses and began to scramble. My left arm was wrapped across her shoulders, and my other was holding a knife to her throat. She struggled to begin with but ultimately realized there was no way out. Or, at least, that’s what I thought until she swung her elbow back and got me in the ribs, knocking the breath from my lungs and causing me to lose my grip. The woman grasped onto my knife and wrenched it from my grip. She turned it upon me and attempted to propel it into my heart. My training kicked in, I had her blood dripping gloriously from my knife and body limp in my arms. 

Bodies lay about the glade with arrows protruding from their chests. I glance at the female I killed and notice a patch sewn onto the inside of her jacket. A bear claw and a crown. That could only mean one thing. I just slit the throat of the leader of The League of Preditors, the largest rebel alliance against The Hunter Council. For twenty-five years the League has been a threat to the Hunter empires, and I just slew the face of their organization. 

These people have been attempting to overthrow The Hunter since before the Nano Bombings. They were the main reason why that series of events occurred. Their rebel operation has been halting our executions and planting doubt into our loyal subjects for years. And now their leader is no more. 

Seven sunsets have passed since that sublime evening. I got promoted to the same rank as my father, and am now at the top of the organization. I was sent to Montana yesterday to deal with an upcoming rebel attack, brought on by the death of their leader. So I will sit on a bench and watch.


The Intruder

By Laurel Chadwick

I checked my watch, 12:47 A.M. “Way too early to be Mom, coming home from work,” I thought to myself, “and Dad’s still on that business trip. He won’t be home for another week.” Someone must have broken in. That was the only explanation for the breaking of glass downstairs.

I could feel the fear creeping into my bones, making my heart race. Beads of sweat trickled down my face as I listened for any sign of movement downstairs. This is stupid, I thought, you imagined it. I almost convinced myself that I had imagined it, that it had been a dream, that all I needed to do was fall back asleep. But then I heard footsteps.


The sound of those heavy footsteps made my heart stop. They sounded like boots, heavy ones. The ones that every killer always wore in the movies, the last thing you see before everything goes black. Every sound amplified, I could hear every dreaded thump of those boots. I heard the intruder pacing around the kitchen. I thought they could be doing. Finding a knife, to clean his kills? A meat cleaver, to beat their victims to death like they do in the movies? What were they doing down there?

Then the boots stopped, turned, and started walking towards…the broom closet? Why would they go there? What would they even find in there? It dawned on me that they didn’t find their weapon in the kitchen, so now they were looking elsewhere. I  thought of everything we had in that closet. Coats, brooms, boxes, umbrellas. Nothing in there would help them. As my mind raced with new possibilities, I heard the closet door click shut and the boot move towards the stairs. Whoever was down there, must have found what they were looking for.

I needed to get out, now. I surveyed my surroundings. My room was pretty cluttered, filled with random stuff I had collected over the years. Boxes of old toys I don’t use, but don’t want to get rid of. Photo albums of my early years and books with worn-out covers. A guitar I never learned how to play, and a dull screwdriver I stole from my Dad’s toolbox. None of these things would make good a good weapon. So I had three options.

Option 1; jump out my window. I was three stories up, 40 feet off the ground. If I jumped out, there would be a high probability of death. And if I somehow managed to survive, I would be in no shape to run away from my attacker if they chose to pursue me.

Option 2; grab my guitar, fling open my door, and run out of the house as fast as I can. The problem with this option is that I can’t do that. No matter how hard I try, I know I can not open that door. If I go down there, I will have to come face to face with the intruder. The thought of that horrified me. What if they had a gun?

And Option 3; crawl through the air vent. If I climbed on top of my dresser and unscrewed the bolts, I could crawl down to the living room and bust myself out. This option might seem like the easiest to you, it could even sound kind of fun. Not to me. Not when you’re incredibly Claustrophobic.

I’ve never liked small spaces. The way the walls close in around me. The way I can’t think straight, the way I can not even handle walking into a broom closet without panicking. But right now, I needed to save myself, I was not going to die today. I grabbed the screwdriver off of the floor and got to work on the bolts. It didn’t take much effort to take off the cover. I looked forward into the dark, cramped, stale-smelling space before me. I took a deep breath and vomited off the side of the dresser. I emptied my stomach until there was nothing left. Better to get it out now, then in the vent. I steadied myself. “You have to get out,” I told myself, “you need to get past this.”

My thoughts were interrupted by footsteps on the stairs.


I couldn’t move. I could hear the footsteps getting closer, and closer, and closer. They were approaching my end of the hallway. I turned my attention back to the air vent. I needed to get out.

Slowly, I moved forward, sliding into the darkness before me. It was horrible. Every inch forward was unbearable. My chest tightened and I struggled to breathe. My hands were sweating so bad and they struggled to grip the sides of the vent. I wanted this to be over. It felt like I was dying. Nothing I did would stop this feeling. This feeling of absolute, and utter desperation.

I could hear echoes behind me. Whoever had broken in has made it to my room. Things were being tossed out of the way, and I could hear someone talking in a low voice. I realized that I had made no attempt to put the vent cover back into place. The intruder would know exactly where I had gone. If they were set on finding me, they might crawl through after me. What if they planned this whole thing so that I am cornered here? So that they could make it easier for themselves. They knew I was an easy target, the perfect person to hunt down, because they knew I could not fend for myself, all alone. “You’re going to die, Nick,” a voice inside my head said, “you’re going to die in this stupid air vent.”

No. That was not going to happen. I wouldn’t let it happen. I’d made it up until then, and I was not going to let one thought stop me. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again, I was ready to keep going. I was still scared, I mean, who wouldn’t be? But I was not going to stay in that god-awful space any longer.

I went into a trance. Just pulling, and pulling, and pulling myself along. Eventually, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Up until now, I hadn’t really thought of how I was going to get out. Fortunately, my house is old. So I was able to break the cover off. I projected myself out of that vent and fell to the ground. As I came to, I noticed that I was in my living room. It was pitch black, except for a small night light over in the kitchen. I decided that my best bet was to exit through the back kitchen door. I picked myself up off the floor and walked quickly and quietly to the kitchen. I was walking across the floor when a sharp pain erupted in my heel. I yelped and jumped backward. I looked down to see what I stepped on and saw…glass? There wasn’t a window over here that could have been broken. It didn’t look like window glass either. More like one of my Mom’s wine glasses. It was one of my Mom’s glasses! That definitely wasn’t there when I went to bed.

Then I remembered the intruder. Upstairs, a door slammed, and footsteps rushed to the stairs. I was frozen with fear. I couldn’t move. What was I thinking? I shouldn’t have wasted time and examined the glass. I didn’t know what to do. I was so overwhelmed. Then I started to get lightheaded. Next thing I knew I was on the ground. The footsteps pounded down the stairs and crossed into the living room. A blurry shape appeared in my line of sight. It was saying something. For some reason, I couldn’t hear correctly. It sounded as if this figure was saying my name.

I was losing consciousness rabidly. I made several attempts at getting up, but only managed to attract attention to myself. The figure was now standing over me. The last thing I saw before I passed out was the intruder’s face. The realization of what happened came crashing down. The ‘intruder’ was my Mother.