The Toast to Summer book contest needs your writing

For the Toast to Summer Book Contest, please write no more than a 4-5 paragraph ending to complete the following short story. The title of the short story is “Room 207.”

Submit your story ending to Ashley Bunton at no later than this Friday at 3 p.m. A panel of professional judges will read over the submissions and choose one winner with the best ending that fits the story. The winner will receive a signed copy of the novel “Barnstorm” by Wayne Page. Winners will be notified Saturday, June 25.

‘Room 207’

An easterly breeze flirted with the Spanish miss that graced the stately sycamores flanking the gravel lane. We had planned to arrive earlier that afternoon, but Saturday antiquing between Charleston and Savannah proved a worthwhile diversion. The setting sun cast long shadows as the roadside enameled sign pointing to the Pirate’s Cove Bed and Breakfast screeched a rusted plea announcing our arrival.

As I rounded one last bend through the wooded estate, I quizzed my wife, “You did insist on room 207?”

“Yes dear,” came the insulted reply. After twenty years of marriage and countless weekends on our quest, she wasn’t about to dignify my inquiry with anything more than yes, dear.

Most of our friends agreed that our search for the occult and the paranormal wasn’t exactly normal. We didn’t have electronic gear. Nor did we wear ghostbuster backpacks or worry about crossing any streamer beams. We didn’t traipse through haunted houses intent on bringing Casper home in a Mason jar. A rudimentary Boy Scout compass and a not-so-simple Canon SLS 35mm camera were enough. On previous adventures, we had seen the compass go drunk with confusion over true north. Our scrapbook documented a few orbs caught on film, but a clear image of an apparition had not yet developed.

After a traditional southern dinner of shrimp and grits, cornbread, and collard greens, we settled into room 207’s four-poster bed. The compass at our bedside foretold a not-so-expected disappointing night. We had experienced many a bust on these weekend sojourns, so we adventured to a roll in the hay that might salvage some of the trip. The old feather bed was protesting one of my better moves when lightning struck the oak tree outside our window. Crack. Sparks. Fire.

“Oh, honey,” my wife faked a moan. “I always knew it could be like this.”

That’s when it happened. With each lightning flash, it moved closer. Closer. Crack. Closer. I could hear the compass spinning, vibrating on the nightstand. The needle scratched the glass lens. Lightning etched its fingers across room 207’s ceiling. A flowing shimmer erased the darkness. There…