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All these stories were inspired by a painting called 'American Gothic' by Grant Wood.

I knew there was something spooky about them, but I just couldn't get my head around it. The two of them digging outside the church. I don't know what they were digging for, but they looked suspicious. I would describe them as tall, slim, stern and cross looking. He was dressed in overalls.

It looked as if they were hiding something, but what? I had to find out and the only way was to spy on them. Last night I saw them again, this time digging in their own front garden. I wanted to sneak in and have a look through the window, but I was too scared. American Gothic

Next morning I planned what I was going to do. I would wait till they were gone and then I'd sneak round the back. I'd bring my ladder and sneak in the top window. But first of all I wanted to see what they were digging for. I looked into the hole and there in the ground was a brooch and a pitchfork. I was expecting a gun but not a pitchfork. Suddenly I heard a noise coming from the door. It was them and they were looking at me as if I had two heads.
"What in the name of God do you think your doing?" shouted the woman.
I just stood there, not knowing what to do or say. Then the man said "Hey I saw you the other day when I was digging that grave. Do you remember Mary, I was telling you about the boy who kept staring at me. Well that's him. Young man, I think you have some explaining to do, don't you?"
"Hold on a minute, you think I'm the one that needs to do some explaining? What's with the digging in the church and the digging here. You can't expect me to be normal when I know something is going on, can you."
"You think we are some sort of criminals? We can explain, can't we Mary? I am an undertaker and this is my wife, as you may already know. This house belonged to the old woman I was burying. In her will she left it to me and she also gave me this pitchfork and this brooch for Mary. We were very close to her."
I told them that I was sorry for misjudging them. They accepted my apology. I hope I won't judge people by their looks again. Sinéad Hennessy

One Sunday afternoon my wife and I were standing outside the church when a tourist walked over and asked, "What's that you're holding in your hand?"
"A pitch-fork," I replied.
"It looks dangerous."
"Oh it is. In the wrong hands it could seriously injure or even kill a person."
The tourist's wife called him over and they started whispering.

We bumped into the same tourists on numerous occasions but we didn't speak to each other. My wife noticed the female tourist looking and acting strange when around other people.

The next night was cold with a full moon and a cloudless sky. In the farmyard there is a henhouse and a hayshed. My bedroom is right beside the farmyard and that night I was awakened by an itch on my back. I got out of bed and walked to the kitchen. I decided to have something to eat before I went back to bed. American Gothic As I was walking to my bedroom I heard a creak from the henhouse door. I called my wife and she came outside with me. I had my shotgun in my hands and she had a candle. We stayed outside for about fifteen minutes to make sure there was nobody there. When we got back inside, all the valuable items were gone. Rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches and good China plates. Everything that was worth money was gone. We went into town the next day to report the missing goods to the police.

A week passed with no strange occurrences but one night we were awakened by the dog barking in the farmyard. We went out but this time I didn't bring my shotgun. As we approached the henhouse, a dark figure jumped out and threw a punch at my face. It grabbed my pitch-fork and stuck it through my foot. I threw the next punch and knocked the figure to the ground. I pulled the pitch-fork out of my foot and then I realised it was the tourist that I had hit. His wife ran to where her husband lay and I hit her on the head with the handle of the pitch-fork, knocking her out cold. The husband was struggling to his feet when I hit him again, knocking him unconscious. I tied them to chairs and brought them to the police station the next morning. We got our possessions back and the tourists were deported to their own country for sentencing. Ronan Dowling

James Carter was a priest. He lived in a quiet town until one day that all changed.... Mass ended early that morning. The priest sounded nervous as he spoke. As he walked into the vestry a letter was waiting for him. It read: "Be seeing you soon!"


"Can't wait for tonight," a farmer said to his wife excitedly.
"Are you sure you're doing the right thing, John?"
He didn't answer, he just walked out of the kitchen and into the hay barn. He lifted the pitchfork off the wall and brought it to the sharpener.


James was walking out of town to visit a friend in the country. The wind began to rise and it made the leaves rustle. He heard a scream. He shone his kerosene lamp in that direction. He heard the scream again.American Gothic He ran over to where it came from: an old hay barn. The door slammed behind him. As he turned around he saw John Rhodes standing with a pitchfork in his hands.
"I heard a scream," said James "did you hear it too?"
John shook his head and stuck the pitchfork into James. He let go of the kerosene lamp. Some straw caught fire and the whole barn went up in flames. No man got out alive. Tom Moore

It's a strange title for a piece of art, isn't it? But when you see the expression on my parents' faces you'll know why. They weren't always like that. They were as happy as most people would be with their faces on a famous work of art.

I started off by drawing the background. The church and the trees were put in with good, but not great detail. Someone had once told me that the less detail you have the less mistakes you make, and this project had no room for mistakes.American Gothic After that, I moved on to the central characters: my parents. I had drawn their outlines the same time as the background.

When I asked my dad why he was wearing overalls and holding a fork he said "I want the world to know, when they see this picture, that I'm not a rich or famous man, just a regular farmer." I drew my mother wearing her flower dress and her locket. It would have been better if she was smiling.

Little did I know that decades later, children would be writing a story based on this picture. I should be happy knowing that my art is being acknowledged by the next generation. In my opinion, if my parents had been smiling, this picture would be more popular than the Mona Lisa. Bryan Hyland

We had only been in our house a week. Everyone in the area had called and welcomed us. Everyone except our next door neighbours Mrs. and Mr. Carter. I have never once seen them smile. They always scowl at me. People say that they never go out except to church.


Mum had baked some bread. She thought it would be a nice gesture to give some to the Carter's. She sent me over with it. I was very nervous because I didn't know what to say. As I went through their gate, in a heap of straw I saw what looked like a pitchfork covered in blood. There were bloody fingerprints on the handle. I ran back to my house. My mother didn't give me a chance to explain what had happened. She just sent me straight back.

I did so and went straight to the door. I handed her the bag with the bread in it.
"This is for you and Mr. Carter."
She opened the bag and grunted. "I'll put it in with the pig swill. There's no way I'm eating that". She slammed the door.

I was very suspicious so, an hour later, American Gothic I decided to sneak over again. I saw Mr. Carter go into the house. I crept up to the open kitchen window and I could hear them talking.
"The girl from next door was here earlier," Mrs. Carter said.
"Don't worry. I buried Johnson in the woods today so there is no evidence lying around the place."
" We definitely did the right thing. He was evil and had his eye on our farm".
I had heard enough.

When I got home a local woman was talking to Mum and Dad. I told them everything I heard.
"Mr. Johnson was one of the most pleasant people you could meet. He disappeared mysteriously a couple of months ago," said the woman.

The next day our bags were packed and we were going to move house. Mum said she had contacted the police and they searched the forest and found nothing so they couldn't investigate further into the matter. The day we left, the Carter's were standing at their gate, watching us leave. That was the last time I ever saw them. I hope some day they will be caught. I am just glad to be away from them. Brenda Young

Some people say that the couple are angry because they didn't make enough hay or harvest enough crops to send their twelve children to university. The real reason is that they were one number away from winning the lottery jackpot of $60,000,000,000,000,000,0000. I don't even know how much that is. Every one was saying how unlucky they were. Their next door neighbour won the prize. They absolutely hated each another. American Gothic One Sunday, the old man in the picture brought his pitchfork to church. He looked around the place until he had his target in sight. He walked up to his neighbour and stabbed him with the pitchfork. The sheriff was on duty and shot the old man in the leg. He was sentenced to life in jail. But the old man had forgotten that he had won $17,000 with the five numbers he had. The old woman had all the money for herself. Gary Hogan