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Ghost Story Competition
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When LifeStyle put out a call for ghost tales, readers sent in their best – from the creepy to the quirky
A TOTAL of 196 true and untrue Singapore ghost stories were e-mailed to LifeStyle in response to a call for spooky tales three Sundays ago.

The last story made it in the nick of time – no, not at the stroke of midnight – but just a minute before the noon deadline last Monday.

The entries submitted used a range of styles, from Stephen King-like horror to tragic Mills & Boon love stories and no-frills secondary school compositions.

Most of the tales are set in typical ghoulish haunts: taxis, empty houses, hospitals, deserted toilets and army camps.

But several creative entries were as spooky as they were quirky. One particularly eccentric tale involved a pencil on a killing spree and another was centred on a possessed Furby.

The contest showed that anyone can write a ghost story. One of the youngest participants was Vera Sun, eight, who wrote a fragmented but charming story about meeting several ghosts in one night and paying a Taoist priest $100 to exorcise them.

The contest was judged by LifeStyle reporters Adeline Chia and Hong Xinyi, who cover the arts.

They pored over reams of supernatural material to pick three winning entries. The criteria they used: clean prose, the ability to produce chills, goosebumps or any other spooked reaction, and an element of the unexpected.

The three winners, after a short debate and in no order of merit, are:

National University of Singapore law student Leong Hon Teng, 23

Neo Geng Tong, 23, who is waiting to enter 3dsense Media School

Nurul Jihadah Hussain, 20, a student at the University of Edinburgh studying Arabic language and politics

They will each receive a $300 Borders book voucher.

The story printed today, Incurable by Leong, is a dramatic piece about a family troubled by a son’s illness.

Told from the father’s point of view and addressed to a mysterious person whose identity is revealed only at the end, it was chosen for its effective use of monologue, suspense and the dramatic twist at the end.

Leong, who posts short stories on his blog (http://hanting.blogspot.com ), wanted to scare unsuspecting readers who pick up the paper in the morning.

He says: ‘The best way to spook them is to create an environment they can relate to and then turn it into something disturbing.’

Neo took a different tack with The Knowing, an atmospheric tale about two women in a bar which gets more and more eerie as the elliptical tale unfolds.

It impressed the judges for its unconventional, stylish tone and its subtle way of getting under the reader’s skin.

Neo regularly writes short sci-fi stories which he posts on websites like www.fictionpress.com. He flipped through some Stephen King short stories for inspiration before writing.

Like horror master King, he wanted to ‘hint that there is something else going on underneath the surface’.

And veering away from creepy works is the decidedly more light-hearted tale called The Not-So-Divine Miss P, by Nurul.

Narrated by a blase pontianak called Miss P, it is a humorous look at a netherworld populated by a Harry Potter-loving child poltergeist and pesky national service ghosts.

The fresh tale was chosen for its unusual perspective and its satirical take on the traditional ghost story genre.

Says Nurul, who usually writes freestyle poetry: ‘I made her sound like Bridget Jones, self-involved and fluffy. All these Singapore ghost stories usually have typical pontianaks that have long black hair.’

Now, enough of the twists and turns.

We print Leong’s story today. Watch this space in the next two weeks for the two other winning entries.

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