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Who Knows What Evil Lurks? : We do. Think killer mushrooms. Think crafty spiders. The winning entries in our scary story contest will leave you begging for more.

October 31, 1994|THE EDITORS OF LIFE & STYLE

What's scary?

One reader sent a Paris fashion-show photo.

Another wrote, "Here is my scary story: Quayle-Huffington '96." Still another: "Scary? The reelection of Bill Clinton."

But what strikes real fear in the hearts and minds of Southern Californians? For the editors of Life & Style, it was the 3,348 entries in our second annual Scariest Halloween Story Ever Told Contest. Imagine picking just eight winners--seven stories and one drawing--from that avalanche of mail.

So what else is scary? A few other thoughts from the febrile imaginations of the 3,340 other folks who had us howling:

* The terrors of freeway driving inspired several stories, including one in which a rude driver gets it from an avenging ghost with a car phone and a white Mercedes.

* In another, a wave of mysterious deaths turns out to be caused by O.J. Simpson trial-coverage overload.

* In a story by a sixth-grader, Mike's grandparents stage a gory prank to teach him a lesson. It works. The story ends: "The only problem is, that happened 10 years ago and Mike is still in therapy."

You want frightening? Stories from younger--and older--writers included such scintillating similes as "he was sweating like Niagara Falls" and "raindrops the size of water balloons."

Creative spellings had us shivering, too, including groosem, unconchis, a bazaar phenomenon. . . .

And then there are the terrors grown-ups just don't understand, such as when a kid turns in his test paper just before the bell--then realizes his numbering for the answers is out of sequence. Or when a child all primed for a Halloween candy pig-out gets snowed in for five days with nothing to eat but canned broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

The most touching scary story had no ghosts, no gore, no cobwebby old house. A teen-ager tells of fleeing her native Vietnam at the age of 10, relating how it felt to leave her parents behind, to spend days on a crowded boat and run out of food and water, to watch others die at sea, and now to enjoy freedom and school in a new country while deeply missing the old one.

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