Category: October 2017 Flash Fiction – Horror Page 3 of 4

October 12: DEMON/DEVIL

This list comes from Kirsten Easthope!

 

Oct 12: DEMON/DEVIL

 

Every woman I’ve ever met is possessed by demons.  Devils.  Vicious, brutal spirits.  Sometimes I have to remind myself of this—when I see a babe in the arms of its mother or a young girl smiling at a summer day, hair tugged by the breeze, as she carries pails of sour milk to the pigpen and pours them, one by one, into the trough.

Women have the power to bewitch men’s minds.  It cannot be natural.  It radiates out of them like the sun.

One day last summer as I was riding on the old fort road toward the garrison, I stopped to watch a girl carry her buckets back to her house, a humble cottage.  I dismounted and knocked on the door.  A crone answered it.

“Greetings,” I said, and told her my name.  She flushed and curtseyed.

“What may I do for you, my lord?”

“The girl who just entered here, who is she?”

“My daughter, lord.”

Only a demon would sell such a beautiful child.  In less time than it would take to describe, she had been dressed in clean clothing and rode behind me on the back of my horse.  Coins jingled in the old woman’s pocket.

At the old fort, which had been turned into an inn, a pair of grizzled mercenaries teased her, calling her “fresh meat” and other such names.  I took her away from them; although women are demons, men of a lower class are surely beasts. When I had finished my business there, I traveled onward, having purchased a second horse to carry both woman and supplies.

By the time I had returned home, the girl’s light had been dimmed somewhat, although I had of course not touched her.  It had been a tiring journey for us both.  I gave her over to the care of the other women of my house—all of them aged now, but still beautiful—and inspected my holdings.

All was in order.

At midnight I escorted the girl up to the room at the top of the tower, where I wed her according to the rites of the folk from which she came.  And in the morning, the women carried her down the stairs, wrapped in gauze, and buried her with the rest, each bone separate from the others, the skull and marrow-bones cracked open, so that if they should rise—well, it would take some time to sort themselves all out.

Afterward, the women presented themselves to me.  The eldest had been with my family for seven hundred years, the youngest over twenty, demons enslaved by blood.

“You have done well, my sweets,” I said.  And offered them my wrist.

Inspired by Bluebeard and Dracula…maybe a little Gilles de Rais.

October 11: WITCH

 

Oct 11: WITCH

 

The rains had been falling hard for a month when that old coot Reba, who herself was known as a drifter, came forward with the story that the farmer Andrace Chenowith had not been murdered by a homeless man living under the Bird Road Bridge.  It was a good bridge for hiding out under, she said, that was not to be argued.  In fact she had hidden there a time or two herself.  But she knew for a fact that there was no homeless man hiding out under the bridge at the time because she had had to hide underneath the bridge herself that night, waiting for the bleeding to stop even though there was a sett full of badgers that like to crawl out after midnight and steal her food.

It was in church on a Sunday morning, the kind of church where the ladies wore hats that you could put out a raven’s eye with or hide a left-eye shiner from Saturday night.  Old Reba stood up bareheaded, her hair straggling across her shoulders in great gray waves of doom.

Then she turned and pointed one long, crooked, twisted old finger at the organist, a plump widow named Hester Wright, who had never been known to do wrong by anyone, especially if they gave her twenty dollars first.

Hester Wright went pale and the pastor demanded that Reba explain herself.

“I was runnin’ past the graveyard when I saw a light at the Chenowith place.  Chenowith will give you milk if you beg.  I slipped through a crack in the door and what should I see but an axe rising and falling, rising and falling…and Chenowith’s brains splattered all over the place.”

And the pastor, who was a man of righteousness but not too much of it, said, “Hester Wright wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Old Reba cackled.  “But she would hurt a man threatening to blackmail you, Pastor Hewes.  That’s just what love can do.”

You coulda heard a feather flutter to the floor among that flabbergasted fold.

Finally the organist rose on shaking legs and said, “What’s your proof?”

“That old possum you threw an axe at, Hester Wright, and scared off from the body afore you could drag it out to the river…”

And then old Reba pushed back her gray hair, as wild as a hailstorm, and showed a bloody red notch in her ear.

“That possum was me!”

Well, Pastor Hewes ran off the next morning and was never heard from again, except for a postcard every Christmas.  And they hung both the women off the Bird Road Bridge, one for murder, and the other as a snitch.

I got stuck on this one.  Thanks to Jamie Ferguson, who provided the idea “Witches shouldn’t be snitches,” and to Tom Waits, who likes to sing about murders and red barns.

October 10: FRANKENSTEIN

 

Oct 10: FRANKENSTEIN

Frankenstein’s Monster calls Dr. Frankenstein his father, which makes him Dr. Frankenstein’s son.  So I don’t wanna hear it.

He stands over the city, watching, waiting.  Dressed in black and wearing a mask.  It’s a city that never sleeps…and ever since he came back from the dead, neither does he.

Below, a scream.

He sets his book aside, Camus’s The Stranger.  The streetlights are bright enough for him to read by.  He isn’t sure where his father got his eyes, but they aren’t human; they see far better in the dark than human eyes do.

He leaps from building to building.  His body still functions far better than those of the mortals below him, even though it is now hundreds of years since his first death.  If he believed in the occult, he would have said that Death, having taken him in all his several parts once, had ever since chosen to pass him by—but ironically he does not believe in anything beyond mortality.  There always seems to be a reasonable explanation.  And yet perhaps reason itself is at fault.

The scream’s echoes seem to leave a trail in the air, a lingering hum.

He looks down upon a scene of tragedy.  A figure lies on the ground, being beaten by two other figures carrying baseball bats and wearing steel-toed boots.

He drops down into the alley from above, an action that should have splintered bones and rendered flesh.  In a low but unavoidable voice, he says, “So you risk my wrath, do you?”

The two figures shrink back against the brick.

“He killed our mother!”

“You know the law.  Either you use the courts…or you face me.”

Later his sign—a pair of crossed bolts stitched with black thread—appears against the thick, unending cloud cover, projected from the top of City Hall.  The polis, the people, call him.  He terrifies them, and still they call.  “For no matter how bad Frankenstein may be, he protects us from worse.”

The ways of men are madness.  And still he comes.

A cackle of vile laughter echoes across the streets.  Tonight there will be lightning…and mad scientists, summoning things far worse than he to reanimate the souls of their dead.

This one, I went, “What if I crossed Frankenstein from Penny Dreadful with something like the world of Gotham?

October 9: SEANCE

Oct 9: SÉANCE

 

There’s only one way to elicit a good jump scare.  You have to interrupt the mental flow somehow with fear.  You can do it in movies pretty easily, of course.  Build up sympathy for the character, increase the suspense…then release it by having someone pop out of nowhere and strike or startle the character.

Empathy.  Suspense.  Release.  Bang.

Our plan was simple.  Wait for Friday the thirteenth of October.  Invite everyone over for a séance.  And then scare the ever-living shit out of them.

We have a big old house that used to be my grandfather’s, on the small acreage that remains from the sale of most of the farm.  It came with a table that can seat twenty at a stretch…we adjusted the insertable leaves until there was only room for thirteen, with an empty chair at the head of the table.

The medium we hired from halfway across the state.  She worked in a college town, reading fortunes.  We warned her.  “Neither of us has much of an opinion about the supernatural or ghosts.  In fact we think they’re a mix—some real ghosts mixed in with a lot of fakes.  We don’t even care whether you’re a real medium or not, or some kind of mix where on the good days it’s real and the bad days you stumble through it as best you can.  We just want you to hold everyone’s attention.  Got it?”

She seemed to have reservations, but she was young.  And broke.  And we were paying expenses.

“Make sure,” we told her, “that the members of the séance can relate to you.  Tell them about yourself.  We have a couple of real cynics coming over…they’re sure to heckle you all the way through unless you get them on your side.”

She finally agreed.

Margie was twenty-two and pretty and about five-foot-nothing with these enormous blue eyes that always seemed on the verge of tears.  She had come from a bad family, not awful but the rigid kind of place where her parents beat her to try to get her to shut up about playing with the spirit of a dead dog that the mom had hit with the car, then went into denial about.  Her roommate had kicked her out of the house after the ghost of a murder victim from the trailer park had come to the house, trying to fine someone, anyone, who would come rescue her pet finches before they starved to death, and Margie had woke up screaming, then raced over to the trailer—barefoot and in the snow—to rescue those birds.  Then refused to turn them over to the animal shelter and kept them in the apartment for six months…

It turned out that she really didn’t have a lot of ethical qualms about pulling the wool over on a group of humans.  Animals, that’s what she cared about.

When she first arrived at the house, she walked around the farm and checked with our dogs to make sure we were on the up-and-up.

Well, dogs.  It’s had to get them to say a bad word about anybody.  She decided we were reliable enough (for humans, that was) and that she’d do it.

The night of the thirteenth our friends came over in dribs and drabs.  A light dusting of snow was coming down, and for a moment I almost bundled up to go outside and take care of the horses.  But they’d been gone for years, after my grandfather died, most of them sold but an old broke-back gelding named Star that had been Grandpa’s favorite, who had been petted and spoiled beyond all reason by my Uncle Ted, even though Uncle Ted had never been a big fan of horses until Grandpa died of a heart attack, back in the late Eighties.

We served up pumpkin spiced cider and pumpkin bread and pork roast with bloody red cranberry sauce, and each guest had their own tiny pink gelatin brain-mold at their seat.  And other things, too.  It was a big spread.

Finally, the table was cleared and wiped, the dishes done, the candles lit, cell phones confiscated, smart watches likewise, the curtains drawn, and the electric lights put out.

Margie was put at the head of the table, a crystal ball about the size of a bowling ball on a brass stand under her chin.  We’d introduced her during supper, and she was personable and friendly with all the guests, asking the kind of insightful questions that people love to answer in far more detail than was necessary.  In short she was charming and pumped everyone for information.

So when she finally started chanting over the crystal ball in what sounded like pig-Latin Latin, everyone basically wanted her to succeed, if not in summoning up spirits from beyond the veil, then at least to fool everyone convincingly.  (Although of course they themselves were too smart to be so fooled.)

The crystal ball flickered, then shifted colors.

While everyone else tried to figure out how it was done, I kept an eye on the wall behind her head.

The darkness behind her bulged…stretching.  Pushing out of the wall was a shape about five and three-quarters feet tall.

As it stretched further, it became obvious that the figure was hunched and balancing itself over a cane.

Margie’s head lolled from one side to the other, the light in the crystal ball flickering over her face.  Someone at the table across from me gasped as Margie exhaled, her breath releasing a faintly luminescent mist.  Not quite glowing…more like it was silver, and catching the glow from the crystal ball.

My wife squeezed my hand tight.

The dark shape pointed at Margie at the head of the table and shook its finger, as if it were giving Margie a soundless talking-to, then reached for her shoulder and shook her.

Margie’s head bounced on her shoulders, her whole upper body jerking around.

Everyone at the table gasped or said a soft curse, it seemed, but not because of the dark shape behind her.

A ghostly shape was forming in her breath.  The shape of a horse.

At first it was about small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.  Then it began to grow.

The dark shape behind Margie’s chair let go of her.  She went limp.

My wife squeezed my hand even tighter.  Her shoulders were up around her ears and her eyes were squeezed shut.  Her head was half-turned away, too.

“Look,” I whispered.

The shape raised its cane, unsteadily, over Margie’s head.

“I can’t look,” she whispered back.

“Look!”

The horse’s legs had stretched all the way through the table to the floor.  It snorted—without making a sound, that is, but you could see the look on its face—spun around, and kicked straight through Margie’s chest.

BANG!

Chairs flew, candles tipped, someone’s hair started on fire.  Every single window in the dining room was cracked, and the table had been reduced to kindling.  Splinters everywhere.

Old Grandpa, he never did like anyone sitting in his chair at the head of the table.  And he was so damned mean and stubborn that he stayed sitting there through every meal, even decades after his death.

We knew it would take a real doozy of a plan to get him out of the house.  And we knew that there must have been a reason Uncle Ted loved that horse Star so much…

I never did believe the story about Grandpa dying of a heart attack.

Ran a bit long that time 🙂  If you liked this one, check out Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz.  In a number of the stories, you’re supposed to reach out and grab one of the people you’re telling a story to, of scream in their ears…

October 8: DAY OF THE DEAD

 

Oct 8: DAY OF THE DEAD

 

The end of the world came and went with such a voluminous roar that it seemed as though everything that had happened in the before should no longer occur in the after.  However, this was not the case.  Where anyone survived to continue the old enmities, old enmities were continued; where anyone remembered a tale, it was written down at once (not least of which rememberers were myself, with my perfect memory at last a blessing rather than a cursèd collector of old grudges); where prayers were once said, they were now repeated with double the fervor.

Finados, that is, the Day of the Dead, was one such tradition which survived, although in a curious manner.

Gone were the parades and the cleaning of the graves and headstones, the walking trees having long since torn up even humanity’s most sacred grounds, and the uncanny jaguars having long since learned to view any collection of humanity out in the open as a kind of game arranged for their deadly amusement.  Gone were the churches, rent stone from stone.  Gone was the tequila for offerings (although somewhat replaced by the humble sugarcane pinga that was often humanity’s most fervent spiritual solace).

But the dead?  They remained.  In fact, they returned.  Of the billions and billions who were killed in that war, only a few hundred thousand visited the area around old São Paulo—but visit they did.

They formed from the earth itself.

At first we retreated into caves, or climbed long ladders up into the thorn trees, or pushed rafts away from the shore and floated on any water we could find.  The dead did not like to go into the water, but everywhere else they could reach, they went, silently staring at the world that remained after they had been removed from it.

It was not that the survivors felt haunted, although we did.  It did not help that one seemed to see the faces of those one least wished to encounter.  Lovers who had parted with the bitterest recriminations, friends to whom one had owed a debt or favor, critics who had written one a scathing book review, an oft-ignored cousin…they seemed to follow one around willfully, appearing here, then there, then in a third place…no matter where one turned, one was surrounded by a tremendous feeling of guilt.

As to those whose guilts were more than petty, I cannot say, but of those who went among the dead, some did not return at all, and some returned befuddled by madness.  I have heard many tales…but being somewhat of a coward, I have never gone myself among the dead.  I might trip, and disappear with nothing but blood-stained footprints to mark my death.

It was when one of the largest thorn trees—who are treated as objects of worship among the trees that walk, at least in the area around São Paulo—was knocked over by the dead, who had lifted themselves out of the earth underneath it in such numbers that it toppled, that the strangest part of the new tradition began.

The trees formed themselves into labyrinths all over the old city; at the center of each of those labyrinths was an altar not made by human hands.  It was usually made of large pieces of gray concrete, put on top of each other, a thing which normally the walking trees would not allow.  On top of it was a mound of crudely made sugar skulls, brown in color, because while the sugar cane was still growing, it was as yet impossible to turn it white.  Often a large bowl of pinga would be set out, like punch.

The dead wandered through the labyrinths and became lost.  Later, they were herded by the trees to the center of the labyrinth, where they consumed what was offered to them and quarreled amongst themselves, snarling like dogs over the offerings.  These were not the honored dead of my childhood, great-grandmothers and children sadly found dead in the crib, but the lost dead of the great apocalypse.

Finally, at the end of the day, the dead collapsed once more.  The soil thus produced was of a fantastic richness.  It became a tradition to collect the gray, ashen earth piles and carry them to the base of any thorn trees, and to leave offerings for the trees to collect and place on their altars.

No one know what the walking trees think about all of this.  But it seems to me as though if any haunting were unjust, it is this—haunted by the dead of a race that had nearly destroyed itself and all life along with it, and which now rises from the earth to destroy that which the walking trees hold most sacred, by accident.

And so on one day a year, they must force themselves to stand almost entirely still, in elegant rows as they once were forced to do, as if that race once again was their master.

This story is set in a post-apocalyptic South American world.  It was supposed to be a pulp novel about new gods that had formed…I wrote like ten drafts on it, and it’s still terrible.  Then one day I had this off-kilter idea about an unnamed assassin and decided to set it in that world, as narrated by an alternate Jorge Luis Borges.  It’s going to be published soon in Aliterate as “The Name That Was Cursed.”  So if you liked this story, check them out.

I tried to make this scarier, but the narrator was having none of it.  “If the irony and injustice casually produced by humanity cannot terrify you, there is little that will.”

October 7: MOVIE MONSTER

 

Oct 7: MOVIE MONSTER

 

It’s a dirty job, managing movie monsters, but someone’s got to do it.  Not the actual, you know, cleanup on set.  They hire someone else to do that.  And if anything gets broken in the course of the filming, well, that’s their problem.  They want stuff to get broken, most of the time.  If they didn’t want it to get broken, they wouldn’t have left it near the set. And the bodies?  Well, the sets have become a lot messier since they started making clones of the actors who were getting “killed” during filming.  Blood and brains everywhere, and of course if you get a drop on the camera lens you have to shut the whole production down and start over.  But they don’t blame me for that, though.  I mean, you think I can control where the blood splatter flies?  They have experts who do computer models to reduce the risks, at least on the big productions.  But a computer simulation still ain’t a guarantee.

No, my job is to get the monster to the film location, handle their care and feeding while they’re on location, and take them back to the ranch when their part of the shoot is over.

Pretty cut and dried, although I find myself spending more and more time at the ranch, playing my twelve-string acoustic guitar and singing old Spanish love songs to help soothe them during the times between film shoots.

Nobody likes being killed and having their memories transferred to another body, each one more twisted than the one before.  Nobody likes having their vocal cords cut, either, never mind the other snips and trims that they still haven’t managed to work out of the baseline DNA.  They always add the voices in later.  Too many takes wrecked by a sob.

And nobody likes taking down a monster who’s gone full Cthulhu, either.  But honestly the monsters would rather that it’s me anyhow, so when I get the call, I come.  I make it quick, and then I play one of my love songs so we can try to wish them goodbye.

Funerals are for humans, not monsters—that’s what the producers say.

I study the computer simulations and plan a few changes in direction.  A little blood on the camera might go a long way.

If you liked this, check out Sarah Gailey’s article on watching (the first) Blade Runner for the first time recently, which is what inspired it.

October 6: SCREAMING

 

Oct 6: SCREAMING

 

I hate going to the grocery store.  It’s the little kids, you see.  Their parents wheel them around in the front basket of the cart, their fat little legs sticking out of the holes cut in the plastic.  Or they trail along behind them like ghosts.  And the crying?  Always the crying, and calling after their parents.  “Mommy, Daddy…”

And the parents walking away.

Little kids in a grocery store screaming.

“Mommy…Daddy…”

Oh, if you walked up to the parents they would look at you with their placid cow eyes and say, “You can’t give them everything they want.  It’ll spoil them.”

And if this were about candy or cereal, I’d agree.

They chat on the phone while their children scream.  “Shh, shhh.”  Or worse, “I’ll give you something to cry about.”

The screaming of children, the blandness of their parents as they move from the sliced bread to the mixed nuts.

“Mommy…Daddy…”

Little kids scream until they fall silent, trapped in their shells.  You can laugh and say that that’s what your parents did or that the kids deserved it or, come on, you have to grow a thick skin, or that parents have hard days, too.

And that’s fine.

But I can still hear the screaming.

I came up with all kinds of clever ideas for a story about screaming this morning, but…nope.  This is what I had to write instead.  It’s been the kind of year where it’s the little things that horrify me.  “This is where it all starts…”  Anyway, if you liked this, please sign up for my newsletter.

October 5: MUMMY

 

Oct 5: MUMMY

The plague came from the melting snows.  They warned us about anthrax, the Black Death, smallpox varieties.  They didn’t warn us about the dead coming back to life.  The death metal bands had a heyday.  Churches burned.  “The end times! The end times!”

You couldn’t call them zombies.  They didn’t lurch around, moaning, “Brains, brains!” or anything like that.  In fact they were rather delicate.  They couldn’t have dug themselves out of the ground if their lives depended on it!  People were breaking into cemeteries and digging up their loved ones, digging up the dead who had been buried for hundreds of years, just in case.  It was the people with sympathy who were doing this.  You couldn’t rent a backhoe for love or for money, they were too busy being used to dig up graves.

The dead seemed to float, they moved so softly and gently.  Like a caress, a leaf on the wind, a butterfly.  Of course someone had to find out what having sex with a dead one was like.  For a while everyone wanted to know.  But they would only crumble.  Too delicate.

The dead could not invoke lust, only regret.

They extinguished easily, like birthday candle flames.  One last flutter of movement, and then they were gone again.  Their minds did not return.  A string of nonsense syllables, charmingly like that of a baby learning to talk.  They could recognize faces—not a particular face, any face.  If you smiled at the dead, they smiled back.

Then.

The snows melted, and we found a body in the ice up by Olden, in Sogn og Fjordane. We called her the Norwegian Ice Maiden.  She was buried in a cave that had been carved into the rock along the side of the Jostedal Glacier.  Ice maidens are usually priestesses, buried with all honor.  But this one was buried with no honor, no grave goods or offerings to ease her way to the lands of the dead.  As if she did not intend to go.  We only knew that she was a priestess because of her tattoos—which were perfectly preserved on her skin after a thousand years, due to natural mummification.

We had meant to keep her cold, too cold to thaw (she was more precious as a historical artifact than as one of the resurrected dead).  But the equipment malfunctioned, and she woke.

I was there when she opened her eyes.

You could say that they burned.  Her eyes were like crystals…they were not natural, but crafted.  From the moment they opened, they could arrest you.

She was not like the others.  She climbed out of the truck where the refrigerator was stored.  We were frantically trying to surround her with blocks of ice, that’s why the door was open.  She stood up, looked around with her strands of black hair practically around her waist, and saw the road leading down toward Olden.

She shrieked and leapt from the back of the truck, running, tossing us aside like matchsticks, flinging herself down the mountain…she was not limited to the road.  It was like watching a mountain ram spring along the side of a cliff.  We split up, some of us trying to follow her across the rocks, and the truck driving down the narrow road sped toward Olden, to warn them.

The next we heard, she had made it to Olden, then toward the coast…

Suddenly the plague began to affect the living as well as the dead.  The death metal bands have stopped burning churches.  Their screams have become murmurs.  “The end times, the end times…”

Not a plague but a curse.  For what offense? No one knows.  That time has long since passed.

I have gone back to the cave near the glacier to wait.  A storm is coming.  Soon it will howl through the rocks, and puff! I will be nothing but dust.

But if she should return before then…well, I have a syringe full of anthrax right next to my heart.

When she fled the truck, she flung the love of my life aside and snapped his neck. He returned–briefly, softly–then crumbled.

And even though I feel somewhat delicately about the matter, this one thing I will not regret.

I didn’t want to go with an Egyptian mummy, so I looked up some others and found the Siberian Ice Maiden.  Coooool.  But my brain was like, “So there must be good ice maidens, and bad ones…”  Things got weird from there, because I started thinking of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Handling the Undead and got Nine Inch Nails’s “A Warm Place” stuck in my head.  This one was harder than it looks.

If you liked it, though, check out my short story collection, A Murder of Crows: Seventeen Tales of Monsters & the Macabre, which also has a number of tales involving cold weather and melancholy…

October 4: SPIDER

Still no further word…I’ll update if I find out, but otherwise skip it.

 

Oct 4: SPIDER

So I need to write a short horror story on the subject of spiders this morning.  The first temptation is always to go for the cheap scare.  Boo!  To play on people’s typical childhood fears.  And then you start coughing up ideas that everyone has seen before.  Arachnophobia.  The giant spider in the forest in Harry Potter.  I asked my daughter; she had a great idea about people being turned into puppets whose strings were being pulled by spiders, and another great one about spiders that don’t carry venom, but a vaccine.  But neither of them gelled.

I wrote a couple of desultory (a word which here means “half-assed”) paragraphs about an outer space story in which the travelers journey to another world through a portal.  But then what?  Either the aliens look like spiders, or they don’t, or some guy has a spider in his suit when he goes through and something about the portal makes him mutate, or…something.  I couldn’t come up with something I haven’t seen before.

Then I relized, it wasn’t that it needed to be something that I  hadn’t seen before, just something that other people hadn’t seen before.

So.  When I was a little kid, I used to read a lot (big surprise), and I also used to have a lot of nightmares.  The kind that would leave me shaking.  I used to wet the bed, I don’t know, until I was six or so.  Anyway I was in the habit of getting up in the middle of the night, going into the bathroom and turning the lights on, then sleeping on the floor.  I couldn’t turn on the lights in the bedroom, because I shared it with my brother.

I would lie on the floor and stare at the floor tiles or the undersides of the cabinet doors until I could sleep.

I don’t remember what the nightmares were all about anymore.  I just remember the sensation of being chased by things and having to run in slow motion while they followed me.  Chuckling.  They could eat me at any time, I knew.  And the second I stopped trying my hardest to uselessly outrun them, they would.

You’d think that I would have read a lot on those nights, but I only brought a book into the bathroom to read once.

Once was enough.  As I tried to read, the letters seemed to vibrate in front of my eyes, peel off, and start crawling over the page toward me.

I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t scream.

They crawled all over my hands, climbed up my arms, and burrowed into the skin.

I woke up the next morning with bloody scratch marks along my arms.  Dry skin, my mom said.  It turned out I was having a nightmare.  A vivid one.  Just thinking about it now makes my whole body itch.

And yet I still wonder, “What if the words laid eggs? And someday they hatch?”

And then I have to touch my skin.  Just to check.

If you liked this story, check out Something Borrowed, Something Blue, which fortunately has zero spiders in it, metaphorical or otherwise.

October 3: LADY VAMPIRE

I was kindly referred to the Dractober Facebook Group.  I’ll see if I can find something more specific than that if they let me join 🙂

You’ll note the difference between the title and the assignment…I didn’t want to deal with copyright issues over the character.  The parody song lyrics should be okay, though.

 

Oct 3: LADY VAMPIRE

It was Halloween because of course it was, and Justine had put on her full regalia—black evening gown with low décolleté, black wig, spiky fingernails, three-inch heels, pointed teeth.  She’d even done her makeup, giving herself pearly white skin, a double-fanged scar on her neck, and eyebrows that swooped upward, then down in a pair of winged vees.

Then it was time to go out.  She whistled the tune to “Tiny Dancer” as she walked past the graveyard.  Little kids ogled at her and she smiled her pointed smile at them, hissing and holding out her claws.  They shrieked and ran. Their parents laughed nervously at her.

“Headed to the haunted house?”

“I go on in half an hour.”

They nodded sagely to themselves.

She passed the haunted house—the lines stretched around the block—and walked deeper into the dark.

The kid stepped out of an alleyway, the kind where raccoons rifle through trash cans and students jam sixteen cars in a back gravel lot.  He was wearing a red and white letterman’s jacket with a T over the left breast.  And he held a wooden stake in one hand.

“Vampire!” he growled.

She hissed at him.  She was game.

He raised the stake and stalked toward her.  She laughed and hissed again.  Then took a step backward as he kept coming.  The streetlight was directly overhead and all she could see in his eyes were shadows.

He was going to do it.  He was seriously going to stake her.

He must be on something.

She turned and ran.

Footsteps behind her made her run faster.  The heels came off, black Cinderella slippers on the side of the road.  Luckily the dress was slit up the thigh.  Once he got close enough to rip the wig off her head, leaving her pinned-up curls and a straggling mesh cap behind.

Outside the graveyard he grabbed the back of the dress and she lost her balance.  He swung her around and tossed her into the low stone wall.  Her head hit the wrought iron railing along the top and bounced.

She screamed now but it came in gasps.

“Vampire!”

“Look, look!”  She grabbed at her fake teeth and popped them out.  “It’s fake, I’m human, I’m human!”

The stake rose and fell.  After the fourth or fifth grinding, crushing blow, her screams cut off.  He dragged her body around the corner, leaving a trail of blood.

It was Halloween because of course it was, and Justine had put on her full regalia.  Past the graveyard she started to sing, making up words as she went along.  Hold me closer, Lady Vampire…count the ghosts along the highway…

A little kid in a cheap superhero costume threw a rock at her.

“Don’t throw rocks at monsters, kid,” she growled.

“You’re just a fake!”

“If I’m a fake, why are you throwing rocks at me?”

And then she let him see.

She laughed as he fled.  Humans.  They always thought they knew the rules of the games they played.

Lay me down in alleys past the graveyard…big ol’ stake is your loving wa-hay…

If you liked this post, check out my short story “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” a tale of supernatural suspense.

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