I invited some writers I know (and some I didn’t) to take part in a silly writing game. Each participant was asked to write 80-100 words to continue a Halloween-themed story. The only catch was that each writer was only given the entry immediately preceding theirs. No context, no idea what had happened before. The result is a sort of tale that has been stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster.
Enjoy and Happy Halloween!
Soon enough the expanding thunder would subside. If the rain would lessen, she would make a dash for the house. The craggy roof line loomed heavily against the quickly darkening sky. As it was, Emily was forced to wait under the umbrella of the giant yew tree.
The massive creature was at least a thousand years old. Emily imagined that she wasn’t the first to take refuge under it. She speculated about a weary traveler or a dastardly invader who sheltered here. Perhaps a rogue plying for the attentions of the woman of the house. While she let her imagination wander, … (Meaghan Walsh Gerard)
. . . headlights approached from the highway. They weren’t easily noticed, because the downpour choked their reach, but soon, as if on their own, they floated down the county road toward its abrupt end at the yew tree.
Emily hadn’t expected company. She’d been throwing rocks at the creek, because that’s what one does on a Saturday evening in Maypoint. Maybe it was mother’s friends from the Lutheran Ladies Auxiliary. Or maybe a family lost on vacation.
When the headlamps shut off, Emily stopped wondering. She could see the car now: a tattered, rusty Volkswagen van with black spray-paint over its back windows. (Tandy Versyp)
The engine was still running, causing the rusty frame to rattle like an old chain link fence. Emily squinted through the rain and noticed that the passenger seat was missing. The driver’s seat was reclined to the point that she could barely discern the edge of a silhouette. She could not tell if the driver was male or female.
A slight suction announced the crack in the driver’s window. It rolled down just far enough for two pale, bony fingers to flick a smoldering cigarette butt out to the soggy ground. Emily felt her chest constrict as her breath caught in her throat. That simple, singular movement sent her memory cascading back twenty years… (LibrarianGoddess)
…Cigarettes…and candy corn! Emily closed the front door and headed up the soggy, leaf-strewn road. She avoided puddles that did not reflect the milky moonlight. Avoid opaque waters– no matter how shallow! Aunt Sarah always said. After all, the devil was in the details, and to Emily, details were an obsession. Carltons. Menthol 100s. Hard pack. Candy corn. Generic. Details. They were important, especially to Aunt Sarah. But the Devil? The Devil was the most important detail of all. Back then, Aunt Sarah’s midnight snacks were just the peculiar and specific beginnings of an unforgettable night of… (Duncan Pittman)
…feasting. But tonight, Emily was afraid that the feasting would be of another kind all together. Aunt Sarah’s appetites had grown since that fateful night so many years ago. Now her bloated belly craved the sweet taste of things young, and innocent. Of things not so easily purchased. Of devilish things.
The wind blew cold through Emily’s hair as the neon glow of the kwik-e-stop shined down upon her, like some pagan bloodmoon. As she paid for the cigarettes and candy corn, Emily shuddered. She knew that her next errand for her Aunt would not be so… (Henry Abner)
…ordinary. Emily thought back to her earliest memories of Aunt Sarah, halcyon days of endless summer, and then. Well. Things changed. A second shudder swept through Emily’s body and she turned towards home. The trees cast uneasy shifting shadows on the road under the light of the waxing moon.
“Emily…” The voice was eerily familiar, but no it couldn’t be. “I told you not to stay out late. And walking home alone?”
“Aunt Sarah?” She choked the words out as her throat tightened like a python threatening to squeeze the breath out of her.
“You never listen.” The critical tone continued. “And you left me here. Lying on the cold table, alone.”
“Who is this? What kind of sick joker…” The phone clicked. Emily tapped the dark screen. It was dead. The protective case began to feel cool and clammy, the way Aunt Sarah felt the last time… (Rachael Hartman)
Even in the tropical heat, Emily felt cold. Aunt Sarah had been gone for three years now. Though opinionated, Aunt Sarah had also been a confidant, counselor, and cheerleader to Emily. Hearing her aunt’s voice in Emily’s subconscious was one thing, but on her iPhone? No. She was just imagining things. But, someone knew she was out alone … someone who must be watching her … someone who must be following her.
She quickened her steps, glancing over her shivering shoulder. Was that a shadow? Did she hear a twig snap? Suddenly, Emily burst into a run. “Oh why did I wear these stupid heels?”, she admonished herself. Emily stopped briefly to remove her shoes, and felt a hand grasp her arm. Terror! Emily’s head begins to spin … everything is going black … and she begins to fall. (Ilah Walsh)
First the pounding of her head and then a noise. It sounded like a scraping or dragging on wood. She slowly wills her eyelids open and, as the room spins, Emily hears a small voice.
“He’ll be back soon.”
In the darkness, a small figure emerges. A little girl, maybe 6 years old, steps forward and clumsily drags an old doll with her, scraping it along the floor. “You look like my mommy.” The child is filthy and wears an unsettling grin on her face, but still Emily feels sorry for her. “I’m Emily. What’s your name?” (Laura Boo Davis)
The little girl stiffens at the question, rolling her head around on her neck. Emily watches as the matted strands of hair dangle like moss from a weeping willow.
“Do you know how long four seconds really is?”
Emily says nothing.
“One Mississippi,” the girl says. “Two Mississippi…”
In a hushed panic, Emily shushes.
The girl smiles and skips into the dark, counting again. Suddenly, she reappears over Emily’s shoulder and whispers, “That’s how long your brain lives, how long you can feel what’s happening to you, even after your head is cut off.” (Frank Shallard, Jr.)
Terror ripples across Emily’s skin as the feeling of tiny fingers begin a torturous descent up her spine. Her heart and feet freeze in place, unable to communicate with the rest of her body.
Childish fingernails prickle the back of her neck.
A sound like she’s never made before escapes Emily’s mouth. Without thought of place or direction, she breaks away violently, running like a madwoman away from the girl.
It’s so dark. Her feet pound in front of her, but she can’t see them.
“Think,” she screams. “Think!”
Then, ahead of her, she sees it. The glare of the mirror. (Rhianna Van Helsing)
In its reflection, she saw her attacker. The girl behind her was no more. She had transformed into — a badger! Her petite, immature fingers now stiff spaghetti-noodle claws that bristled on her neck like a wire brush.
When she realized no good could come of her current situation, it was a sad moment for Emily. She reared back against the spiny claws for momentum and banged her head against the mirror.
A cloud of minute shards clung to her eyelids, like the dust from her coffee table. A heavy chunk of mirror hung loosely out of her shoulder. Still, the badger remained. (Tandy Versyp)
Momentarily dazed, Emily could not think what her next move should be. She felt something warm and wet slide down the bridge of her nose and pool on the edge of her upper lip like a small puddle before breaking and coating her lips. The sharp, salty taste of her own blood brought her back to the present situation.
Without glancing back, she brought her right hand up to her pulsing shoulder, and gripped the chunk of glass still lodged there. In one swift motion, she ripped the shard out of her shoulder and spun around on badger girl. The jagged edge of the glass came down on the badger’s claws like a hammer crashing against an anvil. Sparks scattered like flaming stars, temporarily blinding her foe. Emily seized her opportunity and… (LibrarianGoddess)
…jammed her fist in Badger Girl’s mouth.
“Taste it,” Emily screamed, as Badger Girl’s tongue flicked her blood around the inside of her diseased maw. “Taste the three millennia’s worth of my ancestors that you’ve just awoken!
Badger Girl looked into Emily’s eyes. They were swirling with the kaleidoscopic electric sheen of an oil slick. They immediately broke and tears streamed down her face. Emily wrangled out a tortured screech.
“They. Aren’t. Happy!”
Badger Girl’s eyes rattled in her skull as she spit Emily’s hand out of her mouth. She stumbled backward. Emily had stopped screaming, but it continued to reverberate in Badger Girl’s head – and it was multiplying, rapidly, but the registers were different. Behind her growing agony, she recognized masculine cries and feminine wails, old and young, hundreds, thousands, powerful and angry, and so loud. (Fetish Ewing)
Only once before had Badger Girl felt so close to madness—at her coming-of-age ceremony, when all shapeshifting badgers capture and ritually eat a Poison Dart Frog. In the near-death hallucinations that followed, a grotesque symphony of ribbets and shrieks had wailed in Badger Girl’s ears, just as the voices of Emily’s undead ancestors howled through her skull now. Badger Girl’s grandmother had taught her the cure then; and now, as the cacophony of enraged lamentations threatened to blot out her very identity, as Emily herself moved in to deliver the death blow, Badger Girl knew that her grandmother’s cure was the only thing that could save her. (Mark Zero)
The golden dagger, forged from the smelted ruin of a false king’s crown, gleamed in the moonlight. Emily’s tear-streaked eyes were wide, and there was nothing but a frothing lust for blood behind them as she brought the cruel knife down towards Badger Girl’s furry bosom. A scream pierced the night.
But the old badger crone’s cure was fresh in the would-be victim’s mind, as if her den mother had shared the ancient secret just last moon.
“The only way to overcome the harrowing madness of the frenzied undead is to… (Henry Abner)
“…skin the coat and become your enemy.” Without hesitation, Emily carved along the fur line with long deliberate strokes. The salt and pepper pelt fell from the Badger Girl’s body like tender meat carved from a roasted lamb carcass used to make gyros. Emily wrapped herself in the heavy, sticky disguise. It effortlessly stuck to her body like a custom-made fur coat, and tingled across her skin with a coagulated determination to survive. Just then, she felt the paw of a stranger caress her shoulder. Without turning around, she knew that it could only be… (Duncan Pittman)
… her aunt. Suddenly she lunged towards her neck and Emily stumbled away. ‘It’s me!’ Emily cried, desperately pulling at the Badger skin, trying to rip it from her body… but it was too late. Emily turned and ran, awkwardly at first as her body adapted to its new shape. She became one with the night, her senses overflowing with the smells and texture of her surroundings. Her mind was more focused than ever and she knew now that it was time. She turned towards….. (Laura McGowan)
…the fork in the road and veered left, down the path leading to the sett. Now fully morphed, she ran on four paws, claws sinking into moist earth as night wind whipped through her black and white fur. She could feel the pull of the clan as she neared. It was almost time for the nightly carnage. The ounce of awareness she retained drained quickly; she didn’t have the strength to resist, though she knew blood would be on her human hands when she awoke in the morning. Blood she couldn’t explain. She could smell her aunt as… (Rachael Hartman)
… she crested the hill above the cottage. How could her aunt still be alive? Then all human thoughts were gone, and only the primal instincts of the carnivorous beast remained. Faster and faster she ran in for “the kill”. Fresh meat. Easily taken. Had any consciousness remained, she might have been prepared for offensive actions from the human, peering between the curtain panels. Her bloodthirsty howls had alerted her target. The sound of the bullet pierced the air. But the only sound she heard was a thump, followed by searing pain as the bullet tore through her flesh. Her momentum caused her to roll as she crumpled to the ground, the thick dark blood oozing from her muscular shoulder. As the pain intensified and she began to lose awareness, she began to morph back into her former human self. As she lay quietly, she wondered if this was her end. Would her internal torture be over and she could finally find her peace? (Ilah Walsh)
Sterile walls and hushed voices. She heard the murmurs calling her, and she slowly opened her eyes to bright light and clean sheets. The dull ache in Emily’s shoulder brought the nightmare all back. But now, she was in a safe place, a hospital, with ugly art and mauve curtains. Footsteps in the door, and her name.
Through groggy eyes, she looked up into Aunt Sarah’s smiling face. Did she know Emily’s secret? How she had morphed into that monster and lost all control? Emily’s shoulder ache thudded, reminding her of the attack. (Laura Boo Davis)
She wanted to collapse, to surrender, sigh like the top popped off a cold beer. Emily imagined tipping over and letting her soul leak out until she was gone. Over. Defeated by her victory, itself just an exaggerated survival.
Aunt Sarah was still smiling. Maybe it’s enough to just have someone do the things you can’t. Like smile.
“When can we go home?” Emily asked.
“Well…” Sarah said. Her hesitation began as thoughtfulness but as her face turned to panic, Emily knew she wouldn’t finish.
Blood trickled from her aunt’s lips, red rivulets becoming a dark brown tide. (Frank Shallard, Jr.)
It wasn’t over at all, Emily realized.
Aunt Sarah’s face was morphing into a hideous grimace similar to a carnival clown. Maniacal laughter came from somewhere in her throat as gobs of blood spurted out of her mouth. Sarah’s skin melted away from her face revealing the crumbling skull inside.
Emily tried to wrench herself off the bed, but it was useless. Any adrenaline she may have to aid her in escape was long gone. She watched on, helplessly, as a figure ascended out of Aunt Sarah’s wrecked body like the hidden layers of a nightmarish babushka doll.
It was… (Rhianna Van Helsing)
… the blood-curdling scream that brought the nurse running. A middle-aged woman in drab scrubs rushed to Emily’s bedside. She looked superficially neat, making the heavy, dark circles under her eyes out of place. She seemed annoyed that Emily interrupted her.
“Shhh, you’ll be waking the other patients. You’re fine, you’re safe now.”
Emily refused to take her eyes off the hideous creature that used to be Aunt Sarah. It still stood at the foot of her narrow bed. “Please, please make her go away,” Emily begged in a hoarse whisper.
“Who?” The nurse scanned the room then looked back at Emily, still shaking, her eyes filling with water.
“Her. She’s not who she says she is. She’s not! She can’t be in here.” Emily was stubborn.
“There’s no one here. It’s just us.”
“No, don’t let her stay. She’s not really my aunt!” Emily began to panic and pull at the tubes in her arm. The nurse pushed her firmly by the shoulders, back into the plasticky bed.
“Relax, Emily. We’ve talked about this before –”
“No, we haven’t. Who are you? I’ve never met you before. I’ve never even seen you before.”
“Just relax and you’ll remember. I come and see you every night. Every night for the past few years —
“Years! I haven’t been here for years. It’s only been a couple of days. Where is my real aunt? What have you done to her?”
“Emily.” The nurse became stern. “I really need you to stop fighting me now. I’m here to help you get better so you can go back to the other floor.”
“No, I’m going home. What ‘other floor’? I want to speak to someone else!”
“Look at me. I will go and get the doctor, like I do for you every night, but you have to promise to sit here quietly while I’m gone. He has all your information and he will answer any question you have, but you have to stay here. Do you promise?”
“Yes,” Emily said, as sheepishly as she could manage. She waited for a few moments before unhooking herself from the bed and tiptoeing down the hall. The corridors were quiet at night and Emily used the escape stairway rather than the one that led into the main lobby. Within a couple of minutes she was outside. The grass was cold on her bare feet but she was concentrating on escaping the grounds and finding her way home. In the dark, she picked her way across the open lawn and hid under an ancient yew tree. (Meaghan Walsh Gerard)
One thought on “All Hallow’s Eve — Harrowing Writing Challenge”
That was excellent! You are all a bunch of dark people….