Award-winning short story penned by GC Middle School student published on KET website & reprinted here


The short story penned by a Grayson County Middle School student that won a statewide writing contest has been published on the Kentucky Education Television (KET) website.

Rising seventh grader Lucy Mudd won the 2024 KET Young Writer’s Contest for her short story entitled, “The Circus.”

Lucy’s story is the tale of a girl’s journey through twists and turns during a day at a circus and leaves the protagonist and reader alike pondering if it was all real … or a dream.

Her story was selected as the state’s best short story, middle school division, from over 1,400 entries.

KET and its partners, Western Kentucky University, Bellarmine University and Murray State University, judged the contest.

Lucy submitted her piece through Teresa Blain’s language arts class, and was awarded a $200 Amazon gift card for her first place honors.

She is the daughter of Nancy and Daniel Mudd.

Lucy’s captivating story can be found below, or go the KET website by clicking here.

The Circus, by Lucy Mudd

Would creepy explain this? Yes. My birthday was last week and my Aunt Maria got me and my little sister, Leah, tickets to a circus I never heard of. My parents didn’t get tickets so it’s just me and Leah. When we got there it did not look crowded, which was weird because the tickets were sold out.

“Amaya, where are the other people?” Leah asked. “Shouldn’t there be more people?” “Yeah.” I said “Maybe we’re just early.”

I looked at the time. 3:24. The circus starts at 3:30 so we’re not late. Strange. Almost every circus I go to there’s a crowd, but this is like a ghost town. I squinted more, and when I say ghost town I mean it. There are ghosts here.

“Leah.” I said. “We are leaving.”

We turned to the door, but when I tried to leave I couldn’t. We’re trapped, we have to go in. We passed a lot of ghosts, some looked kind, some looked mean. As we sat down, the circus immediately began to start.

“Welcome girl and girl!” said the ringmaster like he was just talking to us. “Welcome to the circus, you’ll love it here.”

The lights turned off. I heard screaming, whispering, and machinery. The lights turned on. I was up in the air on a tightrope. I looked down and saw Leah being chained on a spinning wheel. I couldn’t take that, no one will hurt my sister. Then, I saw it. An exit door that is open. We have to get over there. We have to go home.

I took one step on the rope. The butterflies in my stomach started to fly faster. I took a second step, now I was officially on the tightrope. I didn’t look down, only straight forward where I was close to the platform. I heard Leah screaming. I took a peek and I instantly regretted it. Leah was scratched and bleeding from top to bottom. My body was full of rage. I kept walking on the tightrope, tripped a few times but made it to the platform. I started down the ladder, quickly taking one step at a time and finally to the bottom. There were clowns laughing every time he threw a knife at Leah.

“HEY!” I yelled.

The clowns looked at me. I picked up a knife on the ground.

“Leave my sister alone.” I said holding up the knife. “Or I’ll throw it.”

The clowns turned more. And before I could throw the knife someone grabbed me and pulled me into a closet.

“You don’t do that.” The voice said. “They may look weak but they’re strong.”

“Who are you?” I said. “Where am I?”

The shadows revealed a boy who looks the same age as me in an acrobat suit.

“I’m Justin.” He said.

“Amaya.” I said. “You’re not going to kill me?”

“Why would I do that?” he said.

“You work here.”

“Oh … right. Well, let’s just get you out of here.”

“Not without my sister.”

Justin rolled his eyes. “She’s a goner let’s go.”

He grabbed my arm, I pulled away. “Not without Leah.”

Justin sighed. “You have to understand that she won’t make it. Trust me.”

“Why don’t you understand that I have to protect my sister?” I asked. “Haven’t you wanted to protect someone before?”

He paused. I guess I got too deep.

“I did,” he said. “But, I lost him.”

“Who’s him?”

“My brother.”

I started to feel bad. But, that still didn’t make me not want to help Leah.

“I’m going to save my sister.”

I walked out of the closet. Thank goodness that Leah didn’t die yet. She was breathing hard and scratched  from top to bottom. The clowns were laughing hard and the ringmaster. Where is he? He was nowhere to be seen. Rage filled me up. I was about to yell but out of nowhere the clowns got hit and flew all the way to the other side of the tent. I ran to Leah and unchained her. She hugged me tight and so did I. Justin ran over. I realized he was the one who knocked over the clowns.

“Thank you.” I said.

He smiled. “You have to get out of here.”

We ran to the exit. But, before we could get to the door the ringmaster popped out of nowhere.

“Hold on!” he said. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“Home.” Leah said.

“My dear this is your home! And, Justin, since you betrayed us you will be walking the tightrope of doom!”

The ringmaster took Justin by the hand and then the lights turned off. When they turned on I saw the deadliest tightrope ever. There were bear traps, crocodiles, and a moving tightrope. At the top of all of it was Justin.

“No …” I murmured.

After helping us I just can’t leave him there to die. I looked around. Up on top of the bleachers was a rope. I told Leah to hide and stay put. After she hid, I ran up the bleachers. I didn’t look at Justin when I was running but when I got to the top he was already starting. I was at the rope. It was a risky shot but I will take it. I grabbed the rope and jumped. It was scary but I was heading the right way. Justin saw me, he held out his hand and I grabbed it. I took a look at the ringmaster, he was in a rage. When we got Leah and headed to the door Justin grabbed my hand.

“Thank you,” he said. “And, goodbye.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked. “You’re coming with us.”

“I can’t, Amaya. I have to stay here.”

Before I could say anything he pushed us out. I shot out of my bed, the only thing I can think of was shock. Was it a dream? Was it all fake? My alarm clock started to come off. I remembered Justin and how he helped us escape. Leah walked into my room and she had the same scars from the spinning wheel.

“Amaya what happened?” she asked. “Was it all a dream?”

“I don’t know, maybe it was.” I told her.

But, the truth. I wasn’t sure. The ringmaster doing all the tricks and popping out of nowhere, the ghosts, and the quick machinery when the lights turned off. Now that I’m thinking of all of this, maybe it was a dream. I went to my closet and found the box that my Aunt gave me. I opened it and what I found was two tickets to a circus.

By Ken Howlett, News Director

Contact Ken at

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