Flash Fiction Battle: Entry #3 #ffb17 #HO17

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Welcome to the second annual flash fiction battle in which four brilliant independent horror authors will battle it out to be crowned the King or Queen of Horror, (well, Horror October at least). 

For the past few weeks, four horror writers have been creating an original short story based on the theme you chose.

The winning theme was ‘Master of Cemeteries’.

Once all four stories have been published, the vote will open for you to pick your favourite. I will crown the winner on Halloween!

Without further ado, here is Entry #3.

Please do let us know what you think in the comments below. Will this story get your vote?

In That Sleep of Death

by Stephen Kozeniewski

“You want to know the really perverse thing about The White City Devil?” Donnelly asked, the glee in his voice as he discussed his favorite serial killer almost palpable.

Vince shrugged as he shuffled to the other side of his kitchen to grab a mug for the loudmouthed undertaker’s coffee.  Vince always kept some beans on hand for Donnelly’s occasional visits, but he never drank anything more powerful than tea himself.  High-test upset his stomach, and he had enough trouble sleeping nights with the arthritis and everything else.

“The only thing that got him off was the sound of women screaming.  That’s why he kept doing it.  Imagine putting all that time and effort and money into making a jack shack for yourself because of a weird kink.  Eh, but it was the 1800s, after all.”

Donnelly shrugged.  Vince nodded and sat down across from his…well, he hesitated to use the word “friend,” even in his own mind, as he didn’t particularly care for the other man.  “Acquaintance” seemed too remote, considering he knew more about Donnelly than almost any man alive.  (Certainly, he spilled his guts to Vince often enough.)  “Visitor,” perhaps was a fair splitting of the difference.

Donnelly continued describing the exploits of mass murderer H.H. Holmes for more than an hour before finally asking Vince a question about himself.  In previous visits he had gone much, much longer.

“But, my God, Catapali, I have to say, I sort of get it.  After all, the work I do, the work you do.  Well, you’re so much closer to the metal, so to speak, than I am, digging all those damn graves.  I can’t even get to sleep without a fifth of Amaretto in me.  How do you sleep at night, anyway?”

Vince didn’t rush to answer.  Usually if he waited long enough, Donnelly continued on with whatever he had been blathering about.  This time, though, he was silent just long enough for it to seem rude if Vince didn’t respond.

“Noise machine.”

Vince pointed at the little box with the speaker in his bedroom.  It was visible from where they were sitting.  Donnelly nodded.

“Yeah, that makes sense.  That’s a good…I’ll have to try that.”

It was almost dark before the chatterbox mortician finally left, but Vince didn’t really mind.  He couldn’t do any more work before dark, anyway.  Not his real work, anyway.  He clambered into his pickup truck and was greeted with a thump from the pine crate in the bed.

“Easy now,” he said, putting his hand through the back window and stroking the crate, as though its inhabitant could feel his soothing touch.

The thumping didn’t stop as he drove out to the gravesite.  With the pulley system he had rigged up for his truck it was no trouble at all to dump the pine crate into the open grave.  Getting the expensive cherry coffin from Donnelly’s funeral home up into the bed was slightly trickier, but he had done it nightly for years now and was used to it.

When Vince had first started his job, he had done the grueling work of digging a three by eight foot hole six feet deep by hand.  144 cubic feet of soil.  1100 gallons.  Every speck hauled out of the ground at the end of a spade.  Hours of work.  Now, with his backhoe, it took him forty-five minutes, tops.  Ten to cover it back up.

It was only half an hour to the abandoned dump.  Using the old car compactor, Vince squished what was left of the dearly departed Mr. Squillante into a fine red paste, strewn with splintered wood and bone.  Vince had occasionally considered selling Donnelly’s expensive coffins, but he had no idea what the market was for those, and, really, he didn’t need the money.  He led a simple life.

Afterward, he swung by all his usual haunts: the docks, a few crack dens, the bus station.  It seemed like slim pickings tonight, but he finally tracked down a skinny runaway peeing in the bushes outside of the homeless tent city downtown in Memorial Park.  He brought the boy back to his caretaker’s shack before nailing him into a fresh pine box for tomorrow.  By three in the morning he had finished digging all the graves for tomorrow.

Vince trudged into his bedroom, feeling every second of his sixty-seven years on this Earth.  It seemed like all he ever did anymore was work his fingers to the bone, and yet no matter how tired he was he could never sleep a wink at night without his noise machine.  It wasn’t a store-bought device with a pre-recorded track, though, as he had let Donnelly assume.  The transmission had to be live.  Always live.

He flicked it on.  Instantly, his bedroom was filled with the soothing sounds of nails scratching against wood, panicked low-oxygen screams, and profanity-laden threats.  Good.  The prostitute he’d buried in Squillante’s stead was just reaching that point of pitch-perfect desperation.  Vince yawned and felt his eyes grow heavy.  Better sleep while he could.  Tomorrow he’d have to do it all over again.

The End

(854 words)

Meet the Author

ffb17-sk1Stephen Kozeniewski (pronounced “causin’ ooze key”) lives in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German.

He has written numerous horror novels including Braineater Jones, The Hematophages and Hunter of the Dead, and has been published in various anthologies.

Website // Amazon // Goodreads // Twitter

Check out the other entries:

Entry #1: Holding On by Sean Seebach

Entry #2: The Master of Cemeteries by Justin Bienvenue

 

The vote will open soon. Stay tuned for the final story!

30 Days of Horror #1: The Last Days of Jack Sparks #30daysofhorror

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Join me for 3o Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book for each day until we reach Halloween!

I thought I would kick off proceedings with my favourite horror read from 2016, the brilliant The Last Days of Jack Sparks. It was such a fun, fast-paced read and so perfectly darkly comic.

jacksparks

Paperback, 336 pages

Published March 3rd 2016 by Orbit

Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.

In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.

Goodreads // Review // Guest Post by Jason Arnopp

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Up Next on Horror Oct:

Flash Fiction Battle: Vote for your favourite horror story prompt

 

 

Welcome to Horror October 2017 #HO17

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Prepare yourselves, Horror October is back!

Autumn is the best time of year to read all of those books you’ve been too scared to open and to curl up on the sofa to watch your favourite scary movie, so once again I’m dedicating a whole month to doing just that. Horror October #5 is here!

If you’re not a huge fan of horror, do not fret. As ever, I’m using the term quite loosely and hope there will be something to suit everyone.

Last year I hosted the inaugural Flash Fiction Battle which turned out to be a huge success so I will be doing the same again this year with a bunch of new, brilliant writers to battle it out for the accolade of King or Queen of Horror (October).

The success of last year’s event was totally down to you guys getting involved and voting en masse, so I hope you’ll join me in making this year’s competition even bigger and better. Look out for the first FFB post tomorrow!

So, without further ado, here’s what’s coming up for Horror October 2017:

The Books

I probably won’t get through all of these within the month but I’m going to give it a bloody good try. Click the links to visit their Goodreads pages.

New & Upcoming Releases

 

I am Behind You ~ John Ajvide Lindqvist, Marlaine Delargy (Translator)

iambehindA supernatural superthriller from the author of Let the Right One In

Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming.

This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre. On family, on children, Lindqvist writes in a way that tears the heart and twists the soul. I Am Behind You turns the world upside down and, disturbing, terrifying and shattering by turns, it will suck you in.

Published: September 7th 2017 by Riverrun

The Silent Companions ~ Laura Purcell

ThesilentcompanionInspired by the work of Shirley Jackson and Susan Hill and set in a crumbling country mansion, The Silent Companions is an unsettling gothic ghost story to send a shiver down the spine…


Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. But inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself..

Expected publication: October 5th 2017 by Raven Books

Alone ~ Cyn Balog

aloneWhen her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they’re not going back to the city…or Seda’s friends and school.

As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.

Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…

Expected publication: November 1st 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire

 

The Passion of Cleopatra (Ramses the Damned #2) ~ Anne Rice

ramsesFrom the iconic and bestselling author of The Mummy and The Vampire Chronicles, a mesmerizing, glamorous new tale of ancient feuds and modern passions.

Ramses the Great, former pharaoh of Egypt, is reawakened by the elixir of life in Edwardian England. Now immortal with his bride-to-be, he is swept up in a fierce and deadly battle of wills and psyches against the once-great Queen Cleopatra.

Ramses has reawakened Cleopatra with the same perilous elixir whose unworldly force brings the dead back to life. But as these ancient rulers defy one another in their quest to understand the powers of the strange elixir, they are haunted by a mysterious presence even older and more powerful than they, a figure drawn forth from the mists of history who possesses spectacular magical potions and tonics eight millennia old. This is a figure who ruled over an ancient kingdom stretching from the once-fertile earth of the Sahara to the far corners of the world, a queen with a supreme knowledge of the deepest origins of the elixir of life.

She may be the only one who can make known to Ramses and Cleopatra the key to their immortality—and the secrets of the miraculous, unknowable, endless expanse of the universe

Expected publication: November 21st 2017 by Anchor

 

From the TBR Shelves:

Misery ~ Stephen King

miseryPaul Sheldon.

He’s a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan.

Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader – she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident.

But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.

Published: 1988 by New English Library

 

Killing the Dead ~ Marcus Sedgwick

killingthedead

Set in a girls’ boarding school in Massachusetts a haunting and sinister story YA story for World Book Day from prize-winning author Marcus Sedgwick.

1963. Foxgrove School near Stockbridge, Massachusetts. One of the oldest and finest academies in the country – but what really goes on behind closed doors? Nathaniel Drake, the new young English teacher, Isobel Milewski, the quiet girl who loved to draw spirals, her fingers stained with green ink, Jack Lewis, who lent Isobel books – just words, just ink on paper, Margot Leya, the girl with those eyes – who are they, what part have they played in killing the dead?

Follow the dark, dark path
Into the dark, dark woods
To the dark, dark bridge
By the dark, dark water.
Linger.
Let the ghosts of heaven tell their story.

A stylish and creepy story for World Book Day from prize-winning author Marcus Sedgwick

Published: March 5th 2015 by Indigo

Under My Skin ~ James Dawson

undermyskin Meet Molly Sue. Once she’s under your skin there’s no getting rid of her…

Seventeen-year-old Sally Feather is not exactly a rebel. Her super-conservative parents and her treatment at the hands of high school bullies means that Sally’s about as shy and retiring as they come – but all that’s about to change. Accidentally ending up in the seedier side of town one day, Sally finds herself mysteriously lured to an almost-hidden tattoo parlour – and once inside, Sally is quickly seduced by its charming owner, Rosita, and her talk of how having a secret tattoo can be as empowering as it is thrilling. Almost before she knows what she is doing, Sally selects sexy pin-up Molly Sue, and has her tattooed on her back – hoping that Molly Sue will inspire her to be as confident and popular as she is in her dreams.

But things quickly take a nightmareish turn. Almost immediately, Sally begins to hear voices in her head – or rather, one voice in particular: Molly Sue’s. And she has no interest in staying quiet and being a good girl – in fact, she’s mighty delighted to have a body to take charge of again. Sally slowly realises that she is unable to control Molly Sue… and before long she’s going to find out the hard way what it truly means to have somebody ‘under your skin’.

Published: March 5th 2015 by Hot Key Books

 

The Flash Fiction Battle

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As I mentioned earlier, the main event this year will once again be a flash fiction battle.

Four fabulous authors will fight it out for your votes on the best short story based on a theme chosen by you! More information will follow in my next post when votes will open!

 

30 Days of Horror Challenge

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I will attempt to showcase one horror book each day until Halloween. They will be a mix of books I love, and ones I am yet to try. Join me? #30daysofhorror

 

Other Frightening Features & Gruesome Guest Posts

This Year in Horror so far

Round-up of the horror books I’ve read so far this year

The Ultimate Halloween Sleepover Party

Planning a Halloween party? Well here’s everything you need for a successfully scary night in!

Frightening Film Reviews

I swap the page for the screen and review some of the recently released horror films out there.

Bloody Books

A showcase of the horror pulp fiction covers of yesteryear.

 

How to Get Involved

– Are you planning on reading or posting anything ghoulish or gruesome this month? If so let me know and I’ll link to your posts on my weekly round-up

– Want to be a Horror October guest? I’m still open for guest posts, reviews, and spotlights. You’ll be fully credited and can still post on your own blog too so it’s a good opportunity to reach more people. Email me for more info.

– It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway…comment away! I’ll also be tweeting using #HO17, #30daysofhorror & #ffb17. And don’t forget to vote!

-Use my Horror October or Flash Fiction image on your sidebar to show your support.

 

#HorrorOctober The Finale: The Top 5 of Everything With Jason Arnopp #HappyHalloween

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Happy Halloween!

 

Well, it’s Halloween. Hurrah! It’s always bit bittersweet for me though as it signifies the end of Horror October. But,  it’s been a great month and I’ve saved the best til last for you…

After reading The Last Days of Jack Sparks earlier this year, Jason Arnopp crept into my Horror Hall of Fame; it’s such an entertaining novel, I can’t recommend it enough! You can read my review here. Therefore,  I was naturally thrilled when Jason agreed to write a guest post for the occasion. Read on for more info on Jack Sparks and his Top 5’s of all things horror. 

The Last Days of Jack Sparks

jacksparks

Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.


In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.

First Published March 1st 2016 by Orbit // Available in Hardback, Paperback & Kindle / eBook

Amazon // Goodreads

The Top 5 of Everything with Jason Arnopp

[In no particular order]

Top 5 Films that got you into Horror

 

1. Salem’s Lot (1979) Couldn’t sleep with the curtains open for years after that!

2. Poltergeist (1982) First saw this at an equally young friend’s house, and his mum physically blocked our view of the TV when the guy ripped his own face off!

3. The Evil Dead (1981) My favourite horror movie in terms of sheer rewatchability

4. The Thing (1982) My favourite horror in terms of slowburn tension

5. Hammer House Of Horror (1980) Not a film but a Brit TV show, which gave a young me some influential chills

 

Top 5 Books that made you want to write

1. Doctor Who: Terror Of The Autons by Terrance Dicks – I liked all the Target novels, but this one always stood out. Autons and the Nestene consciousness are very creepy.

2. Stephen King On Writing – a great non-fiction book. Part memoir, part kick up the ass for scribblers.

3. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – one of my favourite authors. Such great unique style and ideas. Brave as hell too, for the way he trains an unflinching eye on the human condition.

4. House Of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski – insanely ambitious and just all-round insane!

5. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton – basically Doctor Who, in terms of the central concept of a tree with different worlds arriving at the very top of it.

 

Top 5 things you’re scared of

 

1. Death

2. Debilitating illness

3. Russia having a nuclear missile called Satan 2

4. The prospect of Donald Trump becoming president of America

5. People with no empathy

Top 5 things you’ve worked on

 

1. The Last Days Of Jack Sparks (Orbit Books)

2. Beast In The Basement (Retribution Books)

3. A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home (Retribution Books)

4. Auto Rewind (Retribution Books)

5. American Hoarder (Retribution Books)

 

Top 5 things that inspired Jack Sparks

 

1. The amount of certainty displayed on social media

2. The lack of empathy displayed on social media

3. The amount of ego displayed online in general

4. Non-fiction books in which the author goes on some kind of egotistical quest

5. Found footage movies

 

Top 5 things you’d want to survive a zombie apocalypse

 

1. Me

2. My loved ones

3. Seabirds

4. Animals in general

5. Anyone likely to buy my books in a post-apocalyptic age

 

Top 5 things you’d still like to accomplish

 

1. Write lots more novels

2. Write more movies

3. Become vegan instead of just vegetarian

4. Record a thrash metal album

5. Die before zombie apocalypse commences

 

Top 5 things that make a good horror story

 

1. The unknown

2. Total unpredictability

3. Some kind of depth, i.e. ultimately being about something

4. Not having a scene in which the heroes visit a library and discover everything there is to know about the ghostly antagonist that’s terrified them and us for the first two acts.

5. People getting possessed and stuff

Top 5 things you’d like to set on fire

burning_microwave1

1. My microwave, because it just stopped working yesterday

2. Booking.com’s slogan ‘Booking dot com? Booking dot YEAH’

3. People who get their kicks from harming animals

4. All reality survival shows that pretend contestants have to hunt animals to survive

5. The cold virus. Is it even possible to set fire to a virus? I don’t know, but I’m willing to try

 

Top 5 Movies in the Halloween Franchise

1. Halloween – obviously, iconic stuff

2. Halloween II – a pleasingly mean-spirited sequel

3. Halloween III: Season Of The Witch – it’s the only one without Michael Myers, but it’s one of the best!

4. Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers – the sixth film introduced an occult angle, which I really like

5. Halloween: H20 – Jamie Lee Curtis returns! A great, concise sequel with an awesome showdown. It really should have been the last Halloween movie.

About the Author

Jason+Arnopp+photo+-+credit+Amy+Terry%2c+Take+Aim+Photography.jpg

Jason Arnopp is a British author and scriptwriter. His background is in journalism: he has worked on titles such as Heat, Q, The Word, Kerrang!, SFX and Doctor Who Magazine.

He has written comedy for Radio 4 and official tie-in fiction for Doctor Who and Friday The 13th.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is the first novel which is entirely Jason’s own fault (though some readers will blame Jack himself).

Website // Twitter // Facebook

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in Horror October 2016. It really does get bigger and better with every passing year. I’m not sure how I’m going to top it next year…

Flash Fiction Battle: Let the Voting Commence! #HorrorOctober #VoteNow

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Welcome to to Horror October 2016’s main event: The Flash Fiction Battle

 

At the beginning of the month, you voted in your masses for your favourite horror story prompt, and the winner was ‘3 AM. Full Dark. One Sound’. The participating writers rose to the challenge with aplomb and now it’s time for you to vote for your favourite!

Voting closes on the 28th October

Here’s the stories again, all in the same place so you can agonise over your winner. I’m torn between two but I’m not letting on which two! Will it be a blood-curdling basement, a creepy-ass child, spine-tingling survival, or a very unpleasant pregnancy?? YOU DECIDE!

Entry #1: The Secret Of The Basement

By Lily Luchesi

When I was a kid, I hated my house’s basement. No matter how many times my father said I was being ridiculous, my mother said I was getting too old for such childishness, and my older brother called me an assortment of cruel names, I never ever went down there. I always said it would take a life or death situation to get me to go down there of my own accord.

Yes, it was a stupid thing for an adult with a high-class scholarship to one of the best schools in the US to think that the boogeyman was living in their basement, but there you have it. Some childhood fears stick with you forever.

I only returned to the house because my mother left it to me in her will, with very specific instructions that I had to stay there until it sold. With a few expletives in my mind, I did my very best to negotiate with her lawyer. I was pre-law, I knew the drill, and I knew there were always loopholes in every contract, even a will.

Not this time. If I didn’t do as she asked, it would go to the state. When I asked why the house wouldn’t go to my brother, the lawyer replied that he had refused it: he’d claimed a vow of poverty and couldn’t accept the house or the land. Sanctimonious bastard.

I sold it, losing out on a hundred grand. That’s how badly I didn’t want it. However, I still had to stay there and take care of everything inside. I figured I’d hold an estate sale and whatever didn’t sell, I’d toss.

Being back home brought back unpleasant memories of my workaholic dad, my alcoholic mom, and my abusive brother. I hated it.

It took me over a week to price everything–most of which was junk–and then I realized, I couldn’t give the city this house without seeing what was in the basement. What if there was something combustible down there? Or valuable?

My fear of the place was still there, buried deep down but there nonetheless. I felt like an imbecile. I went three times all day today, trying to open the doors and get it over with. Each time shaking limbs and a pained stomach stopped me.

I spent the rest of the day and evening berating myself as I watched the sky darken and the usual autumnal thunderstorm roll in, drinking what was left of my mom’s liquor cabinet. I passed out on the living room sofa, only to be woken by a loud crash of thunder. I flew off the couch, frightened, as the power flickered a few times and then went out just in time for me to see the clock read 3AM. I let my cell illuminate the room, not that it did a great job. Looking out the back doors, I saw that the lightning hit a tree in the neighbor’s yard that had fallen partly into my yard.

Sighing, I threw on my hoodie and went outside to be sure there was no damage to the house. Rounding the side, I was relieved when all I saw was a branch sticking into the doors to the basement. Shielding my eyes from the driving rain, I removed the branch, which came apart with a wet crack, taking with it the old, rusted padlock on the doors.

Despite the fear in my gut and the hangover pounding in my head, I figured the Hell with it and threw open the doors, smelling the wet, moldy stench all places like that have after being closed up for years. And there was something else, something cinnamony.

I began my descent, cell phone before me to cast some kind of light into the inky darkness that seemed to be seeping into my bones just like the cold rain was. The stench got worse, a thick wet smell that made me want to gag.

As I went further down, the doors slammed shut behind me and I jumped. Damn wind. Now it was not only pitch dark except for a foot of smartphone light, it was silent like the grave and I shivered.

Take a look around and get the Hell out, I thought as I finished my descent, breathing through my mouth. I fumbled my cell, trying to get the light to stay steady in my trembling hand. Shouldn’t I at least be able to hear the storm?

The silence and darkness combined was too much. I just wanted out. Finally I got my hand to steady and waved my phone from side to side to get a panorama. What I saw made me collapse on the steps behind me.

Corpses. At least a dozen. Men, women, and children, all in various stages of decay, many so old they were mummified, creating that cinnamon stench. Gaping, rotted mouths seemed to smile at me, and empty, rotted eye sockets stared at me, the intruder in the domain of the dead. Flesh was sloughing off the bones of the most recent ones, and I saw a family of maggots in one man’s eyehole.

I wondered how they all got here, many of them were so old they had to have died in the twenties at least. Fear holding me prisoner, I finally had the sense to turn around and scramble up the steps, only to slip on the rainwater.

I felt backwards and barely felt my leg break. Too much adrenaline in my veins. Grabbing my phone, I checked for a signal to dial 911. Nothing. The storm had hit the cell towers.

I tried calling 911 twenty minutes ago, and I’ve been writing this ever since in my Notes app. I’m never getting out of here, but maybe one day they’ll find my body with the others. Why do I say I’m never getting out? Because the heavy silence was broken by one thing just now: the subtle, papery sound of a body shifting

Entry #2: Come in Here

By Stevie Kopas

Sorry I’m late,” Jill whispered as she crept through the front door, locking it behind her.

It was just past Midnight and she hoped the baby was already sleeping and that her sister wasn’t angry with her for not arriving home on time, but Maddie was curled up on the couch with a book as usual and smiled when Jill entered the living room.

How was work?” Maddie asked, marking her page with a bookmark and hopping to her feet, stretching.

Awful,” Jill sighed. “If I could actually leave when I was scheduled for once I might come home with a better answer. How’s my little bear?”

Oh he’s great, been sleeping like a baby.” Maddie made a face and laughed. “Well, I mean, he is a baby, but you get what I mean.”

Jill chuckled and walked her sister to the door, giving her a big hug before sending her on her way. She was halfway up the stairs to check on baby Louis when her phone blared from her purse in the living room.

Shit,” she cursed under her breath, praying that the noise didn’t wake the baby.

She fished the iPhone from her bag and quickly silenced it, looking at the screen.

Unknown Caller.

She frowned, but answered anyway, curious as to who could be calling at this hour.

Hello?”

She was greeted by loud static on the other end and repeated her greeting only to receive child-like laughter in response.

Maddie? Is that you?” She asked, but the call immediately disconnected.

Shrugging, Jill put the phone on vibrate and slipped it into her pocket. She started back for the stairs when it began to buzz.

Seriously?” She pulled it from her pocket and rolled her eyes when she saw that it was an unknown caller again. She swiped and answered, trekking up the stairs. “Maddie, this isn’t funny.” The same static greeted her followed by a child giggling; she rolled her eyes. “I hope your parents find out what you’re doing and ground you!”

She hung up and stuffed the phone into her pocket once more before heading for baby Louis’ room. Her little bundle of joy was snuggled up and sound asleep. She smiled and leaned into the crib, gently touching his tiny hand.

Good night, my angel. Mommy loves you.” Jill whispered.

She checked that the baby monitor was on and working before heading for her bedroom.

She changed into some sweatpants and before she could even get her oversized t-shirt over her head, her iPhone buzzed in her jeans on the floor. She let out an exasperated sigh and answered without even looking at who was calling.

Listen up, you little shit—“ Jill started.

Come back in here and play with me.” The little girl on the other end said.

What?” A slight chill ran down Jill’s spine.

The little girl giggled. “I want to play. Come back.”

She rolled her eyes and scolded herself for letting it freak her out. “Go to bed, brat. I’m done playing for the night.”

She hung up and shut the phone completely off, she’d have to set the alarm on the clock for once.

***

Jill rolled over and squinted at the clock: 2:57. She groaned and sat up, she could have sworn she shut the phone off before she went to bed. As her eyes adjusted, she could see the screen read Unknown Caller. Jill tried to decline the call but her screen wouldn’t swipe. She hit the power button on the side, but again, the phone wouldn’t respond. In a huff, she threw the covers off and went with her only option: answering it.

What!” She yelled into the phone.

Come in here,” the little girl whispered through heavy static. “Come in here and play with me.”

For the last time… Go. To. Bed.”

Furious, Jill made sure the phone was off. She got up and put the iPhone in a pile of clothes in the closet just in case there was something wrong with it and the little brat kept prank calling her. Just as she was getting back into bed, Jill froze; there was static coming from the baby monitor.

She stared at it for a moment, straining her ears for more sound, but there was nothing. She thought about checking on Louis, but he wasn’t crying and she desperately needed the sleep. Settling back into bed, she had just closed her eyes when the static came through the monitor again, this time, child’s laughter followed. Her eyes shot open and her skin broke out in goose bumps. She glanced at the clock before jumping out of bed: 3:00.

With the baby monitor in hand, she crept toward her bedroom door and again she heard the laughter. There was no denying it this time, it was the same laugh she’d heard on the phone.

Come in here and play with me,” the little girl said.

Jill panicked and the baby monitor fell from her hands, the static screeching from it, louder now. She sprinted from her bedroom and made a beeline for Louis’ door. She charged through and turned on the light, expecting to find someone trying to hurt her baby, but the room was empty, and Louis remained fast asleep in his crib. She checked on her son, making sure he was okay, her heartrate slowly returning to normal. She cursed herself for being so paranoid, she figured whoever had been calling her had somehow hacked into the baby monitor. She would go to the police tomorrow.

As Jill turned to leave the room, the door suddenly slammed shut and her hands flew up to her mouth. She stifled a scream as she read what was written in blood on the opposite wall just before the lights in the room went out:

I knew I could get you back in here.

 

Entry #3: The Quiet Life

By Stephen Kozeniewski

My tongue sits in a Mason jar on my nightstand, suspended in denatured alcohol.

Do you think that makes me morbid? Grotesque?

Perhaps. I prefer to think it makes me sentimental. After all, he was an unwilling victim of circumstance.

I couldn’t keep him. The human voice is irresistible to them. Like a pheromone. It draws them. The creatures are strangely reliant on the sense of hearing, even to the detriment of all other senses. I’ve often seen them prowling the grounds at night. But they never try to come in the house. To them, the door may as well be an impassable mountain.

When they hear human speech, though, my God, it’s like they’re miniature tornadoes, destroying everything in their paths. It happened to the Martins across the street. This was after we’d all learned to stay silent. But the stillness must have been driving Ted Martin out of his wits. He made the mistake of playing a song.

It was Elvis singing, not Ted, but that didn’t matter to the invaders. As soon as the King’s voice was on the wind the creatures couldn’t flood the Martin household fast enough. They burrowed through brick, wood, and glass with equal vigor, a chitinous tide rolling in.

So we must do without music or television. Even a single errant noise, crying out after hitting your hand with a hammer and they’ll come.

Watching what happened to the Martins was what finally made me walk downstairs, take the scissors from the sewing nook, and hack out my own tongue. It seemed to take hours, longer because I had to suppress my cries of pain. Just scissoring and scissoring away, choking back the blood as it filled my mouth.

After a while I saw Grace had been watching me. She was sitting in the corner, her head hung like a schoolgirl’s. She’s a large girl. Obese, I guess you might say. I don’t find her especially attractive, but we’ve been sleeping together quite a bit. Mostly just to stave off the boredom.

I’d never even seen her before when this all began nine months ago. That was back when there was still panic in the streets and no one understood what drove the creatures. She turned up on my doorstep seeking refuge. Not really knowing what else to do I’d let her in. She’d been the one to suggest that we try not talking.

She has a terrible stutter and rarely opens her mouth out of fear of embarrassment. She had taken note that her habitual silence had made her all but invisible to the creatures. She’d shared the secret with me full days before the news had suggested it. But by then, of course, most everyone was already gone and of those who remained few of us had the discipline to sit silently in our homes for the rest of our lives.

Then the Martins died, and I cut my tongue out. I was standing there with the bloody scissors and Grace just stuck her out her own tongue and closed her eyes, waiting for me to do it for her. Even with her stutter she didn’t trust herself never to utter another sound.

So now we sit. Day after day. Occasionally reading. Often fucking. We’ve taken to exercising a bit, too, not unlike prison lifting to pass the time. We have conversations on the whiteboard, but neither of us have very much to say. Christ said the meek would inherit the earth. I doubt this is what He meant.

It’s late now. Nearly three o’clock in the morning. With nothing to occupy my mind during the day I’ve become a habitual insomniac. The power went out ages ago and there’s no moon or stars out tonight. I can hear them, chittering away at each other in their own strange language.

In the darkness I’m haunted by memories.

Grace is thumping around in the next room. I wonder if she’s exercising. Perhaps she’s just masturbating. Either way I consider joining her. At least it would take my mind off those damned things.

They start out like black insects, about the size of a fist. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are extraterrestrial, but sometimes I think it’s more likely they originated right here on Earth. How could space bugs have evolved to love the human voice so much?

When they hear you they swarm into your mouth. You can crush one, maybe five. But you can’t escape all of them. The “winner” devours your tongue. I suppose when they finally get me they’ll be denied that little treat, at least. Then it latches onto the stem, turning itself into a nasty little prosthetic tongue.

They must tug on your nerves or else secrete some kind of venom, because once one’s gotten in your mouth you stop acting normal. You just walk around, arms and legs wildly flailing, as though the little bugs are student drivers attempting to drive your body.

I’ve looked into the eyes of people possessed like that. You can see them suffering, unable to control their own bodies or even close their mouths over the invader. A fully conscious meat puppet. If I had more guts I would try to kill them when I see them wandering around the streets below. But I don’t want to draw any attention.

A noise pierces the darkness. How is that possible? Grace is fat enough to hide it, but didn’t she know? Damn. I should have used protection. My newborn baby is crying in the next room.

 

Wake Up Mommy

By A. Giacomi

The sensation strikes me at nearly the same time every night. Midnight, the witching hour, where pregnant women around the world rise to take a piss. Begrudgingly, I slowly glide out of bed and drag my sore feet into the bathroom. Sleep would become impossible once the baby arrived, but sleep was already escaping me in my eighth month of pregnancy, a taste of things to come I suppose.

Returning to bed, I close my eyes and try to summon any god that would hear my prayer for a restful, comfortable sleep for the remainder of the night, as I couldn’t remember what great sleep felt like.

A moment goes by, or at least it feels that way.

A tapping sound wakes me from my sleep. The sound is muffled, but difficult to ignore, it grows a little louder when I sit up in bed, but not nearly loud enough to wake my husband, who is blissfully sleeping beneath the bed sheets, unaffected and quite still.

Glancing towards the only light in the darkness, our alarm clock, I see that it reads 3 am, an ungodly hour that I hadn’t seen since my party years in my early twenties. The sound grows louder, a thumping, drumming sound that I can’t quite describe.

It wasn’t coming from the walls, but it was close…very close.

Still groggy, with eyes half open, I try to shake my husband awake so that he may investigate the sound further, but when I pull back the bed sheets I find his side empty but still warm.

Shouting out to him, I await his reply…

The house remains silent.

Beginning to panic I try to get out of bed, but a sharp pain in my back prevents me from moving any further. Stuck, I call out again, but there is still no answer. My mind races as the thumping sound returns, this time louder and in tempo with my rapid pulse.

As the thumping grows louder and louder still, my pain begins to accelerate with the sound. It was too soon to be in labour, but I was beginning to think the baby might have other plans for its arrival. Gritting my teeth and bracing for pain, I sit up and pull the bed sheets away to expose my belly.

To my horror, when I look down at the round mound attached to me, I find tiny fists are pounding against it from the inside. The thumping was coming from inside of me. This is why it had been muffled, this is why I couldn’t detect its source.

Who would imagine such a sound coming from within?

The pounding of tiny fists is drowned out by my screams, which now fill the house and possibly the neighbourhood.

With fear coursing through my veins, my heart nearly bursting, I forget about the pain in my spine and bolt out of bed and down the stairs in my nightgown. My plan was to seek help from the neighbours next door, they were my best bet until I could locate my missing husband.

Reaching the front door, nearly out of breath, I find a dark figure standing in the doorway. It takes a moment to realize who it is.

Baby?” I say in a whisper.

As he turns around slowly, I see that it is my husband, but something in his eyes is off. He seemed hollow, like his mind held no memory of me. Waving my hands in front of him, he barely flinches, but when I try to move him out of the way and exit the house, he springs to life and holds me back.

Stay here.” He says in an eerie whisper.

I’m having the baby, I think, I have to go to the hospital.” I shout with all composure leaving my body.

He refuses to budge and let me pass.

I scream for help, but the thumping returns and pain surges through my entire body, silencing me. My legs get weak and I’m forced to lay on the cold ceramic floor of the hallway. It feels as though I’m about to tear in half. My husband stares down at me without expression as I writhe in pain.

Looking at my belly once more as my vision begins to blur, I see the tiny fists pounding with so much force that it didn’t seem human, there was something other living inside me, and it clearly didn’t need me anymore, it was about to make its exit.

 

Choose wisely, friends 😉 The winner will be announced on Saturday 29th October!

Flash Fiction Battle: Wake Up Mommy by A. Giacomi #HorrorOctober

ho-ffb

Welcome to to Horror October 2016’s main event: The Flash Fiction Battle

At the beginning of the month, you voted in your masses for your favourite horror story prompt, and the time has come for the participating horror writers (see above) to battle it out for the title of King or Queen of Horror (October)!  The winning prompt was ‘3 AM. Full Dark. One Sound’, and the only rule was a 1000 word limit.

You will be able to vote for your favourite story, but not until all the entries have been published (by the end of this week). 

Wake Up Mommy

Author: A. Giacomi
Word Count: 755
Blurb: A thump in the night…

scared


The sensation strikes me at nearly the same time every night. Midnight, the witching hour, where pregnant women around the world rise to take a piss. Begrudgingly, I slowly glide out of bed and drag my sore feet into the bathroom. Sleep would become impossible once the baby arrived, but sleep was already escaping me in my eighth month of pregnancy, a taste of things to come I suppose.

Returning to bed, I close my eyes and try to summon any god that would hear my prayer for a restful, comfortable sleep for the remainder of the night, as I couldn’t remember what great sleep felt like.

A moment goes by, or at least it feels that way.

A tapping sound wakes me from my sleep. The sound is muffled, but difficult to ignore, it grows a little louder when I sit up in bed, but not nearly loud enough to wake my husband, who is blissfully sleeping beneath the bed sheets, unaffected and quite still.

Glancing towards the only light in the darkness, our alarm clock, I see that it reads 3 am, an ungodly hour that I hadn’t seen since my party years in my early twenties. The sound grows louder, a thumping, drumming sound that I can’t quite describe.

It wasn’t coming from the walls, but it was close…very close.

Still groggy, with eyes half open, I try to shake my husband awake so that he may investigate the sound further, but when I pull back the bed sheets I find his side empty but still warm.

Shouting out to him, I await his reply…

The house remains silent.

Beginning to panic I try to get out of bed, but a sharp pain in my back prevents me from moving any further. Stuck, I call out again, but there is still no answer. My mind races as the thumping sound returns, this time louder and in tempo with my rapid pulse.

As the thumping grows louder and louder still, my pain begins to accelerate with the sound. It was too soon to be in labour, but I was beginning to think the baby might have other plans for its arrival. Gritting my teeth and bracing for pain, I sit up and pull the bed sheets away to expose my belly.

To my horror, when I look down at the round mound attached to me, I find tiny fists are pounding against it from the inside. The thumping was coming from inside of me. This is why it had been muffled, this is why I couldn’t detect its source.

Who would imagine such a sound coming from within?

The pounding of tiny fists is drowned out by my screams, which now fill the house and possibly the neighbourhood.

With fear coursing through my veins, my heart nearly bursting, I forget about the pain in my spine and bolt out of bed and down the stairs in my nightgown. My plan was to seek help from the neighbours next door, they were my best bet until I could locate my missing husband.

Reaching the front door, nearly out of breath, I find a dark figure standing in the doorway. It takes a moment to realize who it is.

Baby?” I say in a whisper.

As he turns around slowly, I see that it is my husband, but something in his eyes is off. He seemed hollow, like his mind held no memory of me. Waving my hands in front of him, he barely flinches, but when I try to move him out of the way and exit the house, he springs to life and holds me back.

Stay here.” He says in an eerie whisper.

I’m having the baby, I think, I have to go to the hospital.” I shout with all composure leaving my body.

He refuses to budge and let me pass.

I scream for help, but the thumping returns and pain surges through my entire body, silencing me. My legs get weak and I’m forced to lay on the cold ceramic floor of the hallway. It feels as though I’m about to tear in half. My husband stares down at me without expression as I writhe in pain.

Looking at my belly once more as my vision begins to blur, I see the tiny fists pounding with so much force that it didn’t seem human, there was something other living inside me, and it clearly didn’t need me anymore, it was about to make its exit.

About the Author

 

a-giacomi
A.Giacomi is a writer, artist, and educator from Toronto, Canada. She is the mother of two tiny humans who inspire her to create weird and wonderful works that are both giggle worthy, bizarre, and unique. When she’s not hanging out with her family she can be found slapping paint around or typing at light speed on her laptop (That is when the rest of the house is napping or sleeping).

A.Giacomi is the author of The Zombie Girl Saga, which will conclude January 2017. She is currently working on a poetry book, a children’s book series, a YA series, and short stories whenever ideas pop into her head. She is deeply influenced by her fangirl tendencies and loves to throw lots of pop culture into whatever she creates. Ask her about anything TIM BURTON or MARVEL related and she’ll love you forever.

Although she mainly writes in the horror/supernatural genre, she also dabbles in poetry, thus gaining the nickname: THE POETIC ZOMBIE. She’s a big fan of “cute” but “creepy” which started when she was a wee one and read lots and lots of R.L Stine way past her bed time. That and she loves ZOMBIES! She never misses a TWD or iZombie episode, and the comics? Don’t even get her started on her love of comics! To her, they’re art!

Check out the other entries: The Secret of the Basement , Come in Here The Quiet Life

That’s it guys! All four stories have been entered. Check back later today for the poll so you can vote for your favourite.

Flash Fiction Battle: The Quiet Life by Stephen Kozeniewski #HorrorOctober

ho-ffb

Welcome to to Horror October 2016’s main event: The Flash Fiction Battle

At the beginning of the month, you voted in your masses for your favourite horror story prompt, and the time has come for the participating horror writers (see above) to battle it out for the title of King or Queen of Horror (October)!  The winning prompt was ‘3 AM. Full Dark. One Sound’, and the only rule was a 1000 word limit.

You will be able to vote for your favourite story, but not until all the entries have been published (by the end of this week). 

The Quiet Life

Author: Stephen Kozeniewski
Word Count: 926
Blurb:  What could possess a couple to cut out their own tongues?

tongues
My tongue sits in a Mason jar on my nightstand, suspended in denatured alcohol.

Do you think that makes me morbid? Grotesque?

Perhaps. I prefer to think it makes me sentimental. After all, he was an unwilling victim of circumstance.

I couldn’t keep him. The human voice is irresistible to them. Like a pheromone. It draws them. The creatures are strangely reliant on the sense of hearing, even to the detriment of all other senses. I’ve often seen them prowling the grounds at night. But they never try to come in the house. To them, the door may as well be an impassable mountain.

When they hear human speech, though, my God, it’s like they’re miniature tornadoes, destroying everything in their paths. It happened to the Martins across the street. This was after we’d all learned to stay silent. But the stillness must have been driving Ted Martin out of his wits. He made the mistake of playing a song.

It was Elvis singing, not Ted, but that didn’t matter to the invaders. As soon as the King’s voice was on the wind the creatures couldn’t flood the Martin household fast enough. They burrowed through brick, wood, and glass with equal vigor, a chitinous tide rolling in.

So we must do without music or television. Even a single errant noise, crying out after hitting your hand with a hammer and they’ll come.

Watching what happened to the Martins was what finally made me walk downstairs, take the scissors from the sewing nook, and hack out my own tongue. It seemed to take hours, longer because I had to suppress my cries of pain. Just scissoring and scissoring away, choking back the blood as it filled my mouth.

After a while I saw Grace had been watching me. She was sitting in the corner, her head hung like a schoolgirl’s. She’s a large girl. Obese, I guess you might say. I don’t find her especially attractive, but we’ve been sleeping together quite a bit. Mostly just to stave off the boredom.

I’d never even seen her before when this all began nine months ago. That was back when there was still panic in the streets and no one understood what drove the creatures. She turned up on my doorstep seeking refuge. Not really knowing what else to do I’d let her in. She’d been the one to suggest that we try not talking.

She has a terrible stutter and rarely opens her mouth out of fear of embarrassment. She had taken note that her habitual silence had made her all but invisible to the creatures. She’d shared the secret with me full days before the news had suggested it. But by then, of course, most everyone was already gone and of those who remained few of us had the discipline to sit silently in our homes for the rest of our lives.

Then the Martins died, and I cut my tongue out. I was standing there with the bloody scissors and Grace just stuck her out her own tongue and closed her eyes, waiting for me to do it for her. Even with her stutter she didn’t trust herself never to utter another sound.

So now we sit. Day after day. Occasionally reading. Often fucking. We’ve taken to exercising a bit, too, not unlike prison lifting to pass the time. We have conversations on the whiteboard, but neither of us have very much to say. Christ said the meek would inherit the earth. I doubt this is what He meant.

It’s late now. Nearly three o’clock in the morning. With nothing to occupy my mind during the day I’ve become a habitual insomniac. The power went out ages ago and there’s no moon or stars out tonight. I can hear them, chittering away at each other in their own strange language.

In the darkness I’m haunted by memories.

Grace is thumping around in the next room. I wonder if she’s exercising. Perhaps she’s just masturbating. Either way I consider joining her. At least it would take my mind off those damned things.

They start out like black insects, about the size of a fist. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are extraterrestrial, but sometimes I think it’s more likely they originated right here on Earth. How could space bugs have evolved to love the human voice so much?

When they hear you they swarm into your mouth. You can crush one, maybe five. But you can’t escape all of them. The “winner” devours your tongue. I suppose when they finally get me they’ll be denied that little treat, at least. Then it latches onto the stem, turning itself into a nasty little prosthetic tongue.

They must tug on your nerves or else secrete some kind of venom, because once one’s gotten in your mouth you stop acting normal. You just walk around, arms and legs wildly flailing, as though the little bugs are student drivers attempting to drive your body.

I’ve looked into the eyes of people possessed like that. You can see them suffering, unable to control their own bodies or even close their mouths over the invader. A fully conscious meat puppet. If I had more guts I would try to kill them when I see them wandering around the streets below. But I don’t want to draw any attention.

A noise pierces the darkness. How is that possible? Grace is fat enough to hide it, but didn’t she know? Damn. I should have used protection. My newborn baby is crying in the next room.

[Image: http://davescupboard.blogspot.co.uk/2009/10/pickled-lambs-tongues.html]

 

About the Author

stephenkoz

Stephen Kozeniewski lives in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where, due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star.
He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s is in German.

Check out the other entries: The Secret of the Basement & Come in Here. Voting begins soon!

What’s your favourite so far? Let’s discuss – leave a comment.

UP NEXT ON HORROR OCTOBER: The final Flash Fic entry