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The River of the Dead Girl
Allison, Age 12, Easton, CT

NOVEMBER 3, 1935:  Katrine Von Russler was shot by Mr. Koogen, a neighbor, for killing his family cat. The girl’s body was never found but police suspect that it was dumped in the river running through the Von Russlers' meadow. The girl was shot on Easter Sunday shortly before she would have turned 19. The police are looking for Mr. Koogen. Anyone with any information concerning his whereabouts is asked to please contact the police. A $10,000 reward will be given to anyone providing information which leads to the arrest of Mr. Koogen.

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Wow, I thought, 71 years ago people were really crazy, especially about cats. I picked up the article off the basement floor and slowly rose from the ground. I loved looking at this article it made me want to find the girl or Mr. Koogen.

“Hey, kiddo,” I jumped. My grandfather now stood before me.

“Oh, it’s just you. You scared me!” came my quivering reply.

“What are you doing looking through my old stuff?”

“Well,” I decided to tell the truth. “I’ve always wanted to be a detective. I want to solve a mystery.” I didn’t  mention how many times I had snuck down here to look through his collection of old newspaper clippings.

“So you want to be a detective,” he boomed.

“Well... yeah, you sort of got me into it.” I managed to reply. “Grandpa, where is the river, I mean where this girl died, is it near here?” I pointed to the article.

“Well... let’s see... hmmmmm, ah, that’s it, Farmer Joe’s meadow. Why do you ask, sweetheart?” he said, sounding concerned.

“Oh… just wondering,” I lied.

“OK.  But don’t go looking for that girl. She’s not dead yet.”

“What?” I said, puzzled. “Grandpa what do you mean by not dead yet?”

“Mr. Koogen shot her 6 times and left her in the river,” he sounded bad. “She’s still around but she’s not really dead. Folks around here call her the living dead girl. Why don’t we just forget about her and go upstairs honey, okay.”

I did what I was told for now, but when we were going upstairs I heard my grandfather starting to hack and wheeze. I didn’t worry too much. He was probably just coughing too much from all the dust in the basement.

For two weeks I thought about Katrine. Then finally I decided to go and look for her myself. When my parents and grandpa fell fast asleep in the dead of night, I snuck out to go find the river at Farmer Joe’s. I chose to ride my bike over driving my car because it was a nice night out. Besides that, the car was way too loud, and I didn’t want to wake anyone. A pale crescent moon shone above my face and thousands of stars twinkled above my head. I rode all the way there without stopping once. I reached the barn and hid my bike in its shadows and snuck into the high-grassed meadow. For what felt like an hour I crept through the grass to see the living dead girl herself. I finally heard the faint, faint sound of a trickling stream. Soon the trickle became louder until the half dried river came into view. I crouched just in case I did see her. I peeked through some reeds and saw a grotesque sight. The living dead girl! She looked not much older than 19, from what I could tell. I realized with sheer horror that the half rotting thing had once been alive, maybe even pretty. It looked dead until it slowly jerked up and turned its scabby face towards me.

“I know you’re here, I can sense you. I confess, I can’t quite see you,” she said in a mocking tone. “Why play hide and seek? I know you are terrified. But why are you so terrified of me? After all, you did want to see me, didn’t you? So grandpa isn’t feeling so well. I’m so sorry, but that was me, and now I will kill him! I never liked him, after all, he is the one who killed me,” she cackled a loud nasty cackle. My mind now racing, I needed to leave. I turned for one last look at her, but she was gone.

“Why leave so soon?” for now she was standing in front of me. “I thought you liked me,” she cackled. I got up and ran so fast I could have beaten a beam of light to my bike. I hopped on my bike and rode home not looking back once. When I got home I opened the kitchen door and slammed it shut. Safe , I turned away but in seconds the door was smashed and splintered.

“You can run but you can’t hide,” she screeched.

“Grandpa,” I ran into his room, he was lying on his bed. “Grandpa, the girl, she is chasing me. Grandpa, oh no,” I ran to his side. Barely alive, he croaked, “Sunlight, it is sunlight.Then he fell back and died.

“Grandpa, no!” I started to weep uncontrollably. Then a sudden surge of anger raged through me. I went to the door  where she stood waiting for me. I looked at the clock: 6:00 AM. What had grandpa meant ‘Sunlight, it is sunlight’? Maybe it means... yes! I kicked open the door to see the revenge seeking girl with a smile on her face. I said, “So you killed him when he didn’t even kill you?"

“Well... he is the son of my killer, Mr. Koogen. I needed revenge. I swore it on every soul that looks upon me.”

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