Halloween will be here before you know it. So it’s time for The Press’ annual Halloween writing contest.

Local students in grades kindergarten through high school are invited to write an ending to the Halloween story, “Zombie Stir-Fry To Go,” which we’ve begun here.

Aspiring artists also are encouraged to put their skills to work and submit their artwork on 8½- by 11-inch paper. While the artwork will not be judged, several drawings will appear in print and in an online gallery.

Through our annual contest we have received thousands of entries, and we’re looking forward to another successful year.

We encourage teachers to continue using the contest as a classroom writing assignment.

A team of Press editors will select a winner in each grade kindergarten through eighth and one from all the high school submissions. Each winner will receive a prize.

Winners also will have their work published in print and online, along with a video of them reading their stories aloud.

All submissions should be sent to Halloween Contest, c/o Gail Wilson, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, NJ 08232 or emailed to Halloween@pressofac.com. Include “Halloween Story” as the subject line of the email.

Please include your name, age, school and contact information on the front of all stories and the back of all illustrative submissions.

The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. Oct. 10.

For questions, call Gail Wilson at 609-272-7212.


“Cut! Cut!!. CUT!!!!”

Eleven-year-old Tamela Hopkins was ready to scream. And not the kind of blood-curdling-I’m-being-eaten by-the evil-undead scream she’d written into the script of what was going to be greatest movie yet — “Zombie Stir-Fry To Go.”

No, this was the kind of scream reserved for annoying little brothers. Like 8-year-old David.

Tamela watched as baby brother David hopped off his “director’s” chair,” iPhone in one hand, candy bar in the other. He was dressed as Chewbacca, because it was Halloween night, but also because he knew his sister hated “Star Wars.”

“I can’t work with amateurs,” said David, looking at the lifeless zombie horde that had just been pushed out of the family’s backyard treehouse by Tamela’s friend, Alicia Beckham.

The zombies were in fact a collection of stuffed giraffes, wolves, dolls and Abominable Snowmen, covered in ketchup and red cake icing.

“What’s wrong with them?” said Tamela, annoyed. “They’re YOUR dolls.”

“They’re so ... lifeless,” David said. “And besides, Buster keeps licking them.”

Tamela looked at Buster, the family’s black Lab, as he turned a few of the zombies into pillow stuffing.

She hated when her brother was right.

It was getting late, almost time for trick-or-treat, and the movie wasn’t even close to being finished.

“Arghh! I’m too OLD for this!” she yelled.

She felt like she was facing her first artistic crisis. Should she finish the movie and shoot for YouTube fame, becoming the star of her sixth-grade media class? Or quit, and go for the candy?

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She looked at Alicia, also 11, her best friend and the star of their school soccer team, the Starbursts.

“I hear the candy isn’t even that good on Rumson Street this year, ” said Alicia, reading Tamela’s mind.

Tamela really believed that last part — Alicia could ALWAYS read her mind.

“OK, OK. “ Tamela said to her brother. “Get back in your chair, li’l bro, we’re finishing this movie.”

“And…….ACTION!” David yelled....”WHOA! What’s that??”

Tamela turned and glared at her brother, only to see him staring in terror and pointing at the zombie horde, which WAS squirming now, all the stuffed animals moving, as if alive. They were moving toward Buster.

“Buster, get out of the way!” she screamed.

She grabbed David’s hand and turned to run. But where was Alicia?