Flash Fiction Battle: And the winner is… #HO17 #HappyHalloween

ffb2017

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). 

The results are in!

I would just like to say thank you to everyone who voted and to Stephen, Sean, Justin and Gabino, the amazing writers who took part for nothing other than bragging rights! You are all winners. In a sense. But not really…

So without further ado,

In 4th place, with his story Holding On was Sean Seebach

In 3rd place, with his story In That Sleep of Death was Stephen Kozeniewski

Coming in 2nd was Gabino Iglesias with Puppets

And in 1st place….

….that leaves Justin Bienvenue with The Master of Cemeteries!

chart(1)

It was so close! There was only one vote between the winner and the runner up!

Huge congratulations to Justin, who I now crown the King of Horror. Well, Horror October at least!

If you enjoyed these stories, please go check out the authors and buy their books! Sadly, that is it for another Horror October!
Don’t forget, horror isn’t just for October…

 

 

 

Advertisements

Flash Fiction Battle: Vote for your winner now!

ffb2017

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). 

Horror fans, blog friends, waifs & strays; the time has come.

All four stories based on the winning theme, ‘Master of Cemeteries’ have now been posted and it’s time for you to pick your favourite.

Which story had your skin crawling, or got you reaching for a comfort blanket? Which one made you do a jaw-drop?  Or maybe one just had that extra something?

Have your say and vote for your favourite creepy quickie.


Voting ends on the 30th at 19:00 (GMT), and I will crown the winner on Halloween! All four entries are copied below in case you missed them the first time around. And if you can’t decide on a favourite you can vote for more than one story.

Please do tell us who you’ve voted for and why in the comments

#1: Holding On

by Sean Seebach

“It’s my job,” Ben said to his wife. “It has to be done.”

She tucked her face into her husband’s neck, rubbed her nose into his flannel collar, then kissed his unshaven cheek before leaving a coffee filled thermos and ham sandwich with him. The coffee would get drank. She had her doubts about the latter, noticing Ben’s flannel hanging loosely from his body. Everything had changed so quickly for them.

But she knew Ben was right. It was his job as the caretaker of Cedar Grove Cemetery to do the work that had to be done. She took a moment to gaze at the purple streaked sky before firing up the family’s 2001 Plymouth Neon, the one that fought to remain forest green against the orange colored rust, and thought about how proud she was to have Ben Taylor as her husband.

…..

Ben picked up the plastic grocery bag his wife had left him and took a squat next to the pile of dirt where he left his spade. He unscrewed the thermos cap, poured, and sipped black coffee during the chilly October twilight.

Across the street, he heard children laughing, screaming, yelling “trick or treat!” at the top of their little lungs. Visions of toddlers dressed as dinosaurs, spacemen, princesses flashed through his mind. Huddled together in small groups, holding the hands of their Mom and Dad, only to let go once they were close to a walkway that led to the porch. Then, a full on joyous sprint, high-pitched screeching, heavy breathing, wide smiles. Plastic bags decorated with witches and castles and bats and cartoonish looking boogiemen being whipped open. More smiles as handfuls of sugary goodness fell into those bags. Bags that Mom and Dad would surely have to go through once darkness fell.

His stomach turned sour.

He picked up the sandwich his wife had left him and unwrapped it. He put it to his nose and smelled it. When was the last time he ate? Ben couldn’t remember. He hadn’t eaten in so long that Ben wasn’t sure if he even liked ham anymore, let alone sandwiches.

He took a greedy bite anyway. He chomped around for a few seconds before spitting it out. He wasn’t ready to eat. Not yet. Maybe later.

The sun fell faster and soon it would be dark. If Ben didn’t get a move on, he’d be working by the light of the lantern. This was okay by him. He wanted to hear the children a little longer.

…..

The moon was almost visible now, a large white china plate hanging in the darkest sky imaginable. Gray, elongated clouds hovered in front of it. They were so close to each other they almost touched. Crickets began chattering to one another in the copse of trees close to where Ben was. Every now and then their chirps drowned out from the call of an owl. The children’s voices from across the street became nothing more than an echo. Ben picked up his spade and began to work.

He had done this so many times before. He tried to convince himself this was just like all the others. But he couldn’t fool what the heart knew. Trying to move on, to push through, was something he and his wife would have to learn as they lived. But Ben needed something to hang on to, something he could feel.

He took a moment to give his hands a break. They began to bleed in the cracks of his palms. He removed his flannel and wiped sweat from his face. When he exhaled he saw his breath and the cool air felt good. He straightened his back and glanced down and regarded the missing pooch from his beltline.

“Heck of a way to lose weight, Ben,” he said. “Didn’t even have to exercise.”

Then it came to him.

“Exercise.” He took a deep breath. “Running.”

Running was the word he needed to find the memory that he would…

“Hold on to forever. Bobby, you’re…”

“Running! Look Daddies! I’m running!” Bobby is running all right. He’s running in the backyard. His arms are outstretched along with his chubby hands. He is smiling and his head is tilted back so his eyes are squinting into the sunlight. White light enhances the child’s blonde hair, mainly at the flared ends where the wind has caught them, forcing them to flap like little wings…

“Daddies, I spin.” Bobby holds his arms up. Daddy grabs a hold of Bobby’s hands and asks him if he’s ready. “Readies,” Bobby says with a nod and a grin. Daddy plants his feet into the tall, soft green grass and begins to spin. Bobby’s feet lift from the grass and into the air. Their eyes lock onto each other. In the corners of their eyes, the world is spinning in a kaleidoscope of color: green, blue, white, brown. Daddy’s worries vanish in that moment. The envelopes stamped with PAST DUE in red letters, asking the cashier to return the snack cakes and bubble bath at the register to prevent an overdraft (just the necessities on this shopping trip, Bobby. Sorry), the anxiety from watching the price screen on the fuel pump go higher and higher are all forgotten in the whirlwind…

“Daddies, look! I fall.” Bobby falls down. “Daddies! You fall…too!” Daddy also falls, right on his back. He looks over at Bobby who has his arms once again stretched out to his side. Daddy does the same. They face each other, make eye contact and smile. Together they raise their feet to the clouds then watch the sky as the dizziness slows…

Ben finds that memory in the darkest of moments, one that he will hold on to for the rest of his life, as he spills the last of the dirt onto the gravesite with the tombstone marked:

Bobby Taylor

February 5, 2015-October 24, 2017

#2: The Master of Cemeteries

by Justin Bienvenue

I roam the land from the opening gates down to the last stone and rotting tree. I’ve been doing this for so long that I’ve lost count of exactly how long it’s been. You’d think this would be the same old routine and boring ass job but not for me. I own my craft, I appreciate every day and I love my job. Some take on this job and they get scared shitless because they think it’ll be “cool” but they don’t know, they don’t have a goddamn clue how to truly take this job seriously. I love this job because I don’t always work at the same place, no I travel and go where I’m needed. Sometimes I do return to places I’ve worked before, sure the land is the same but the work is different. Ghastly and inhuman some would say but righteous and spectacular for me.

I marvel at the opportunity to dig a hole six feet deep and bury a body into the fresh Earth. Sure there’s maggots, worms and other creatures and insects you’ve never even heard of in the ground below but after a while you don’t even notice em there. Sometimes I go lower than six feet I know it’s a bit unorthodox but I feel it’s a sign of appreciation and honor. Some I bury above six feet because I don’t think they were good in life so why should they have it good in death? What’s the big deal about not digging a body six feet and only digging it 2-4? Well let’s just say man’s best friend and mother nature usually show up to make sure they don’t enjoy their eternal slumber.

My first gig was over in Tucson. They had me bury a ruthless outlaw for gunning down eight people simply for looking at him wrong. Talk about talk being cheap. Well I don’t rightfully condone pointless killing but I felt if I didn’t bury this guy six feet that he was gonna rise up and bury my ass so I made sure he was given a proper burial. I’ve buried every sort of person, you name it. Outlaw, clown, lawyer, garbage man, mafioso, zoo keeper, heck even celebrities. Personally I could give two shits as to what their job was when they were alive but I know some people like to know so I throw it in. I used to be a bounty hunter part time but I didn’t see the point really. Bounty hunting became extinct and it got in the way of this job which has many, many parts to it.

I remember the first day I ever worked in New Orleans. They had me over at the St. Louis Cemetery. They told me it would be a bit different than what I may be used to but they had no idea who they were talking to. IF you don’t know, St. Louis is below sea level like most of the city so when there’s a massive storm or flood, the bodies go a washin’. I did my best fisherman and Charon impression and took them bodies out of the water and back into their crypts. Now for as long as I’d been on the job at that point I thought nothing could upset me but the cleanup I did that day would have given a slaughterhouse janitor the nightmares. There were bodies, limps, morbid looking faces and some of the grimiest, slimiest and slippery stench skin you’ve ever seen. Imagine putting Play-Doh under water and then rubbing it with olive oil and dead meat.

My job isn’t always that messy as I usually just patrol normal ones and do my usual maintenance. I do landscaping of the area, mow the open grass areas and keep the graves looking fresh and up to code. You always know if you’re at a cemetery that I’ve been to because it’s so clean and peaceful. It’s practically a garden only instead of flowers there’s gravestones so it’s pretty much a garden of the dead if you will. So in some ways I’d like to consider myself a gardener, only I don’t make stuff grow…or do I? In all seriousness I make sure no stone is turned, no grass gets weeds and no grave is unfilled. I don’t just harvest the land of the dead and dig their beds I also chisel their tombstones and layer the bricks and concrete in their crypts. Find me another person who does that and I’ll start digging my own grave. I just did it for fun one day when I got done early once and seeing as my stone was good and the family really enjoyed it I decided to add it to my repertoire.

Once I had to bury a famous pianist so I crafted a giant tombstone that looked like a piano. The family loved it but the people of the cemetery and the townspeople thought it was too much. They learned to appreciate it..after I told them I could make some for them when they died. I haven’t worked there too much since. As I said though I travel a lot going from graveyard to graveyard in hopes to make each one greater than the next one. I should have my own show on HGTV called “Flipping Graveyards” because I mean I’m that good at what I’d do.

I won’t need another job for as long as I live, heck I’ll probably still be doing this when I’m dead if they let me, you know the guy upstairs or the guy down below? I mean I am helping them..at least I think I am. If you need someone to take care of the deceased I’m the one you call. I have a list of titles on my resume; gravedigger, undertaker, mortician, gravestone carver, crypt builder, gardener, landscaper, embalmer, among many others. When you need a person to care for your loved ones I’m your woman, the master of cemeteries.

#3: 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.

 

#4:Puppets

By Gabino Iglesias

“You look a little pale, Daniel,” said Frantz in his deep, rumbling voice. “This new task has you scared, man? If you wanna roll with us, you’re gonna see some weird stuff. And you’re gonna see a lot of blood. Either one bothers you, walk away now. I might forget about your face if you’re lucky.”

Daniel shook his head. Becoming a member of Zoe Pound was all he’d thought about since his older brother, Samuel, joined them at the age of fifteen. He wanted the money and the respect that came with being a member of the gang. He craved the brotherhood of other Haitians and Haitian-Americans. He dreamed about the power and women that would come his way if he didn’t mess up and did what he was told like a good soldier.

“I’m good, Frantz,” said Daniel, quickly making his way to the door. “Meeting the guy in a mausoleum is weird, but I’ve been in the streets long enough to see weirder. I’ll get you a new puppet tonight.”

Puppets. That’s what Frantz called the disposable bodies the bokor, the dark voodoo priest, got him for suicide missions. Daniel knew that getting a new one entailed killing a man and getting him into the hands of the bokor within a day. What he didn’t know was why he was getting this special task assigned to him after he’d botched a drug deal the previous week. Fratz had called it a rookie mistake, but the look in his eyes did not match the smile he shot at Daniel when he said id. In any case, Daniel was going to get in done. That would be a good start in terms of getting back on Frantz good side.

The victim had already been picked. The man was as predictable, loved his routine, and lived alone. Those were good things. They were also the things that were going to get him killed. Daniel knew he liked to park his car behind a local pizzeria before hitting the trails at a nearby park for his nightly run. It was a matter of waiting for him to show up. When he did, Daniel stepped out from behind a Dumpster, pressed his gun against the man’s temple, and made him get in the car and drive to Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Brownsville, a huge, neglected place that also happened to be Florida’s most important primarily African-American graveyard.

There was a lot of shaking and offering on the drive there, but Daniel ignored all of it. This was a mission he would not screw up. The man at the wheel was already dead to him, nothing more than a throwaway sack of meat and bones.

The explanation Frantz had given Daniel was incredibly accurate. The newbie gangbanger kept his gun in his hoodie and made the man walk to mausoleum near the woods that backed up against the cemetery on the far left side without an issue other than the annoying crying and pleading the man was doing, not to mention he kept snorting snot into the back of his skull like a hog with the flu.

Waiting at the threshold of the dilapidated mausoleum was a wiry, light-skinned man wearing a sleeveless white shirt. His hands, arms, chest, and neck were covered in tattoos.

“You must be Daniel,” said the man.

“Yeah, you the bokor?”

“That’d be me, young blood.”

Daniel realized the man looked anywhere between 38 and 78 years old. His face sported lines that spoke of years under the sun, of hard living and strange nights, but his body looked young and powerful, almost like that of a swimmer or lightweight boxer.

“This the puppet?” the bokor asked, jutting his jaw at the sobbing man.

“Yeah,” replied Daniel.

“Get him inside and shoot him.”

The man screamed some unintelligible promises and supplications. Daniel grabbed him by the back of the neck and pushed him into the cool, moist, smelly darkness of the mausoleum.

Two bullets went into the man’s body, both close to where Daniel thought his heart should be. He dropped down and twitched twice.

“Nice work,” said the bokor from somewhere behind Daniel.

The cold, hard blade pressed against Daniel’s neck from the back.

“The ritual works better if you start it as the person is dying. It’s easier to trap their souls in their bodies for a while that way.”

Confusion and fear kept Daniel frozen. The sound the blade made as it sliced across his neck was as unexpected as the whole situation. It was somewhat of a crunch. The taste of his own blood came quickly, the warm liquid flowing down his chest.

Daniel turned around, lifted his gun, and shot the bokor in the chest, right below his right clavicle. A dark hole appeared where the bullet disappeared into his body, but no blood came. Daniel squeezed the trigger again, aiming higher this time. A second hole opened up in the bokor’s left cheek. The wound remained as dry as the one in his chest.

“Be happy Daniel, you accomplished your task tonight. In fact, you brought Frantz two puppets instead of one. I’m sure he will appreciate the gesture.”

The bokor’s laugh echoed inside the dark mausoleum as Daniel dropped to his knees, his muscles starting to lose their strength.

“Don’t despair, Daniel,” said the bokor. “Your brother asked me to make sure you could cross over as soon as your next job is done.”

Daniel couldn’t reply with a severed throat, so he closed his eyes and felt the tears roll down his face as cold darkness embraced him.

Happy Halloween!

Flash Fiction Battle: Entry #3 #ffb17 #HO17

ffb2017

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!

Flash Fiction Battle: Entry #2 #FFB17 #HO17

ffb2017

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 week and a half, the four participating horror writers have been creating an original short story based on the theme you chose.

The winning theme was ‘Master of Cemeteries’.

You can read the first entry, ‘Holding On’ by Sean Seebach here.

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 #2.

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

The Master of Cemeteries

by Justin Bienvenue

I roam the land from the opening gates down to the last stone and rotting tree. I’ve been doing this for so long that I’ve lost count of exactly how long it’s been. You’d think this would be the same old routine and boring ass job but not for me. I own my craft, I appreciate every day and I love my job. Some take on this job and they get scared shitless because they think it’ll be “cool” but they don’t know, they don’t have a goddamn clue how to truly take this job seriously. I love this job because I don’t always work at the same place, no I travel and go where I’m needed. Sometimes I do return to places I’ve worked before, sure the land is the same but the work is different. Ghastly and inhuman some would say but righteous and spectacular for me.

I marvel at the opportunity to dig a hole six feet deep and bury a body into the fresh Earth. Sure there’s maggots, worms and other creatures and insects you’ve never even heard of in the ground below but after a while you don’t even notice em there. Sometimes I go lower than six feet I know it’s a bit unorthodox but I feel it’s a sign of appreciation and honor. Some I bury above six feet because I don’t think they were good in life so why should they have it good in death? What’s the big deal about not digging a body six feet and only digging it 2-4? Well let’s just say man’s best friend and mother nature usually show up to make sure they don’t enjoy their eternal slumber.

My first gig was over in Tucson. They had me bury a ruthless outlaw for gunning down eight people simply for looking at him wrong. Talk about talk being cheap. Well I don’t rightfully condone pointless killing but I felt if I didn’t bury this guy six feet that he was gonna rise up and bury my ass so I made sure he was given a proper burial. I’ve buried every sort of person, you name it. Outlaw, clown, lawyer, garbage man, mafioso, zoo keeper, heck even celebrities. Personally I could give two shits as to what their job was when they were alive but I know some people like to know so I throw it in. I used to be a bounty hunter part time but I didn’t see the point really. Bounty hunting became extinct and it got in the way of this job which has many, many parts to it.

I remember the first day I ever worked in New Orleans. They had me over at the St. Louis Cemetery. They told me it would be a bit different than what I may be used to but they had no idea who they were talking to. IF you don’t know, St. Louis is below sea level like most of the city so when there’s a massive storm or flood, the bodies go a washin’. I did my best fisherman and Charon impression and took them bodies out of the water and back into their crypts. Now for as long as I’d been on the job at that point I thought nothing could upset me but the cleanup I did that day would have given a slaughterhouse janitor the nightmares. There were bodies, limps, morbid looking faces and some of the grimiest, slimiest and slippery stench skin you’ve ever seen. Imagine putting Play-Doh under water and then rubbing it with olive oil and dead meat.

My job isn’t always that messy as I usually just patrol normal ones and do my usual maintenance. I do landscaping of the area, mow the open grass areas and keep the graves looking fresh and up to code. You always know if you’re at a cemetery that I’ve been to because it’s so clean and peaceful. It’s practically a garden only instead of flowers there’s gravestones so it’s pretty much a garden of the dead if you will. So in some ways I’d like to consider myself a gardener, only I don’t make stuff grow…or do I? In all seriousness I make sure no stone is turned, no grass gets weeds and no grave is unfilled. I don’t just harvest the land of the dead and dig their beds I also chisel their tombstones and layer the bricks and concrete in their crypts. Find me another person who does that and I’ll start digging my own grave. I just did it for fun one day when I got done early once and seeing as my stone was good and the family really enjoyed it I decided to add it to my repertoire.

Once I had to bury a famous pianist so I crafted a giant tombstone that looked like a piano. The family loved it but the people of the cemetery and the townspeople thought it was too much. They learned to appreciate it..after I told them I could make some for them when they died. I haven’t worked there too much since. As I said though I travel a lot going from graveyard to graveyard in hopes to make each one greater than the next one. I should have my own show on HGTV called “Flipping Graveyards” because I mean I’m that good at what I’d do.

I won’t need another job for as long as I live, heck I’ll probably still be doing this when I’m dead if they let me, you know the guy upstairs or the guy down below? I mean I am helping them..at least I think I am. If you need someone to take care of the deceased I’m the one you call. I have a list of titles on my resume; gravedigger, undertaker, mortician, gravestone carver, crypt builder, gardener, landscaper, embalmer, among many others. When you need a person to care for your loved ones I’m your woman, the master of cemeteries.

The End

(999 words)

Meet the Author

10485404_757753684263043_2574212950198527792_nJustin Bienvenue is an indie author and poet. He is diverse in several different genres but mainly writes horror and poetry.

He published his first book The Macabre Masterpiece: Poems of Horror and Gore in 2010 and later had it republished in 2013. He also published the Western Horror A Bloody Bloody Mess In The Wild Wild West in 2013, Like A Box of Chocolates another book of poetry in 2014 and a Crime Thriller Opium Warfare. He has also written several stories and poems which have been published in anthologies.

When not writing novels he also writes short stories and drabbles, and on his blog. He is currently promoting his latest novel while also working on Hundred Year Old Horror, a Horror Blog.

 

Goodreads // Amazon // Twitter

Up Next on Horror October:

30 Days of Horror: Phantoms

Flash Fiction Battle: Entry #1 #FFB17 #HO17

ffb2017

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 week and a half, the four participating horror writers have been creating an original short story based on the theme you chose.

The winning theme was ‘Master of Cemeteries’, and the stories have started rolling in. Once all four have been published, the vote will open for you to pick your favourite. I will crown the winner on Halloween!

Without further ado, feast your eyes on Entry #1.

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

Holding On

by Sean Seebach

“It’s my job,” Ben said to his wife. “It has to be done.”

She tucked her face into her husband’s neck, rubbed her nose into his flannel collar, then kissed his unshaven cheek before leaving a coffee filled thermos and ham sandwich with him. The coffee would get drank. She had her doubts about the latter, noticing Ben’s flannel hanging loosely from his body. Everything had changed so quickly for them.

But she knew Ben was right. It was his job as the caretaker of Cedar Grove Cemetery to do the work that had to be done. She took a moment to gaze at the purple streaked sky before firing up the family’s 2001 Plymouth Neon, the one that fought to remain forest green against the orange colored rust, and thought about how proud she was to have Ben Taylor as her husband.

…..

Ben picked up the plastic grocery bag his wife had left him and took a squat next to the pile of dirt where he left his spade. He unscrewed the thermos cap, poured, and sipped black coffee during the chilly October twilight.

Across the street, he heard children laughing, screaming, yelling “trick or treat!” at the top of their little lungs. Visions of toddlers dressed as dinosaurs, spacemen, princesses flashed through his mind. Huddled together in small groups, holding the hands of their Mom and Dad, only to let go once they were close to a walkway that led to the porch. Then, a full on joyous sprint, high-pitched screeching, heavy breathing, wide smiles. Plastic bags decorated with witches and castles and bats and cartoonish looking boogiemen being whipped open. More smiles as handfuls of sugary goodness fell into those bags. Bags that Mom and Dad would surely have to go through once darkness fell.

His stomach turned sour.

He picked up the sandwich his wife had left him and unwrapped it. He put it to his nose and smelled it. When was the last time he ate? Ben couldn’t remember. He hadn’t eaten in so long that Ben wasn’t sure if he even liked ham anymore, let alone sandwiches.

He took a greedy bite anyway. He chomped around for a few seconds before spitting it out. He wasn’t ready to eat. Not yet. Maybe later.

The sun fell faster and soon it would be dark. If Ben didn’t get a move on, he’d be working by the light of the lantern. This was okay by him. He wanted to hear the children a little longer.

…..

The moon was almost visible now, a large white china plate hanging in the darkest sky imaginable. Gray, elongated clouds hovered in front of it. They were so close to each other they almost touched. Crickets began chattering to one another in the copse of trees close to where Ben was. Every now and then their chirps drowned out from the call of an owl. The children’s voices from across the street became nothing more than an echo. Ben picked up his spade and began to work.

He had done this so many times before. He tried to convince himself this was just like all the others. But he couldn’t fool what the heart knew. Trying to move on, to push through, was something he and his wife would have to learn as they lived. But Ben needed something to hang on to, something he could feel.

He took a moment to give his hands a break. They began to bleed in the cracks of his palms. He removed his flannel and wiped sweat from his face. When he exhaled he saw his breath and the cool air felt good. He straightened his back and glanced down and regarded the missing pooch from his beltline.

“Heck of a way to lose weight, Ben,” he said. “Didn’t even have to exercise.”

Then it came to him.

“Exercise.” He took a deep breath. “Running.”

Running was the word he needed to find the memory that he would…

“Hold on to forever. Bobby, you’re…”

“Running! Look Daddies! I’m running!” Bobby is running all right. He’s running in the backyard. His arms are outstretched along with his chubby hands. He is smiling and his head is tilted back so his eyes are squinting into the sunlight. White light enhances the child’s blonde hair, mainly at the flared ends where the wind has caught them, forcing them to flap like little wings…

“Daddies, I spin.” Bobby holds his arms up. Daddy grabs a hold of Bobby’s hands and asks him if he’s ready. “Readies,” Bobby says with a nod and a grin. Daddy plants his feet into the tall, soft green grass and begins to spin. Bobby’s feet lift from the grass and into the air. Their eyes lock onto each other. In the corners of their eyes, the world is spinning in a kaleidoscope of color: green, blue, white, brown. Daddy’s worries vanish in that moment. The envelopes stamped with PAST DUE in red letters, asking the cashier to return the snack cakes and bubble bath at the register to prevent an overdraft (just the necessities on this shopping trip, Bobby. Sorry), the anxiety from watching the price screen on the fuel pump go higher and higher are all forgotten in the whirlwind…

“Daddies, look! I fall.” Bobby falls down. “Daddies! You fall…too!” Daddy also falls, right on his back. He looks over at Bobby who has his arms once again stretched out to his side. Daddy does the same. They face each other, make eye contact and smile. Together they raise their feet to the clouds then watch the sky as the dizziness slows…

Ben finds that memory in the darkest of moments, one that he will hold on to for the rest of his life, as he spills the last of the dirt onto the gravesite with the tombstone marked:

Bobby Taylor

February 5, 2015-October 24, 2017

The End

(988 words)

Meet the Author

ffb17-seanInfluenced by Stephen King and Rod Serling, Sean Seebach has written four books: A Looking in View, Autumn Dark, Our Monsters Are Real: The Pig Man and his latest release Unknown Vol 1.

When Sean isn’t writing or managing a wonderful barbecue joint with amazing people, he enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to rock n’ roll. He currently lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and son.

Goodreads // Amazon // Twitter // Website

Follow the fight on Twitter

Huge thanks to all four writers, especially Stephen for helping to coordinate.

Horror October: The Flash Fiction Battle Story Prompt Revealed #ffb17 #HO17

ffb2017

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). 

All week you have been voting for your favourite horror story prompt which the four participating authors will base their story on, and the results are in!

4th Place: Sister Shadow (13% of the vote)

3rd Place: An obscure relic (17%)

2nd Place: The kids are made from tricks not treats (21%)

And the winner is…

Master of cemeteries

with a whopping 42% of the vote (20 votes).

Thanks to everyone that voted!

So, it’s now time for the four participating authors to rack their depraved brains and get writing their best scary story.

Meet the Authors

 

Justin Bienvenue

10485404_757753684263043_2574212950198527792_nJustin Bienvenue is an indie author and poet. He is diverse in several different genres but mainly writes horror and poetry.

He published his first book The Macabre Masterpiece: Poems of Horror and Gore in 2010 and later had it republished in 2013. He also published the Western Horror A Bloody Bloody Mess In The Wild Wild West in 2013, Like A Box of Chocolates another book of poetry in 2014 and a Crime Thriller Opium Warfare. He has also written several stories and poems which have been published in anthologies.

When not writing novels he also writes short stories and drabbles, and on his blog. He is currently promoting his latest novel while also working on Hundred Year Old Horror, a Horror Blog.

 

Gabino Iglesias

bwgabinoiglesias

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX.

He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. He is the book reviews editor for PANK Magazine, the TV/film editor for Entropy Magazine, and a columnist for LitReactor and CLASH Media. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, and many other print and online venues.

Gabino’s latest release is an anthology of crime stories inspired by the songs of Johnny Cash.

You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.

Stephen Kozeniewski

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.

Stephen’s latest release, Slashvivor! is a collaboration with none other than Stevie Kopas, the reigning champion of the Flash Fiction Battle! It was released September 1st 2017.

Sean Seebach

ffb17-seanInfluenced by Stephen King and Rod Serling, Sean Seebach has written three books: A Looking in View, Autumn Dark and Our Monsters Are Real: The Pig Man.

When Sean isn’t writing or managing a wonderful barbecue joint with amazing people, he enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to rock n’ roll. He currently lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and son.

Unknown: Vol 1 (Hidden Worlds) is Sean’s latest release which was published September 22.

Follow the fight on Twitter @Lipsyy

Huge thanks to all four writers, especially Stephen for helping to coordinate.

Keep your eyes out for the first story!

Strawberries at Wimbledon by Nikki Moore #BookReview #MiniReview

icon-bookreview

 

strawberries

Title: Strawberries at Wimbledon
Author: Nikki Moore
Series: Love London #5
Format: Kindle Edition, 40 pages
Publication Details: May 14th 2015 by HarperImpulse
Genre(s): Romance; Short Story/Novella
Disclosure? Nope! I bought it (even thought it was free!)

Goodreads 

Purchase

The one that got away?

Sipping Pimms and eating fresh strawberries at Wimbledon are the perfect start to the British summer for Rayne. Immersed in her career as a journalist in the City, she’s been too busy and distracted to give men – or other outside interests – much of a chance lately. That’s something her friend Lily thinks she should correct, coming up with the perfect ‘sex with an ex’ solution – much to the amusement of the crowd on Centre Court!

When Rayne runs into old flame Adam, former good guy who is now all grown up with a hint of bad boy about him, it’s a tempting thought. But is that such a good idea, when she knows that four years ago, she broke his heart?

Back from travelling the world and settling into running the family business, Adam never expected to see his university girlfriend again. And he definitely didn’t think he would still be angry with her for running away, or that she would still have the same stunning effect on him. But she does, so maybe the perfect way to get her out of his dreams and from under his skin, is to have a hot sex-filled night with her? The only trouble is, one night might not be enough…

First love – can you ever go back? 


Review

Strawberries at Wimbledon is the fifth in a series of short romances set in London. I haven’t read any of the previous stories but they stand alone nicely. I love tennis, especially Wimbledon so that’s what drew me to this one.

The story is about journalist Rayne who is invited to Wimbledon by her best friend for a girls day out. What they didn’t bank on was bumping into Rayne’s ex, and first love Adam.

I enjoyed this light-hearted short read. It had lots of cute moments and enough backstory to make it interesting. I’ve been to the Wimbledon Championships a lot and I think the author did a good job in evoking the atmosphere of it. It did come across as a bit outdated however, as the queuing system and other things mentioned have moved on a bit in recent years, but it really didn’t impact on the essence of it.

I can only speak for this particular story, but I reckon the Love London series on the whole is a perfect read for summer. If you’re looking for something flirtatious and fun to read in the sun, then look no further!

unicorn rating 4

Flash Fiction Battle: I now crown you… #HorrorOctober

ho-ffb

Welcome back 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’

Four wonderfully creepy stories were entered by the participating writers and over 1300 votes were cast for your favourite. 

And, finally the results are in…

In 4th place: Wake Up Mommy by A. Giacomi (102 votes)

In 3rd place: The Quiet Life by Stephen Kozeniewski (170 votes)

In 2nd place: The Secret of the Basement by Lily Luchesi (347 votes)

And in 1st place….

 

Come in Here by Stevie Kopas (714 votes)

queenofhorroroct2016

 

A huge thank you to all four writers, and congratulations to Stevie! Thanks also go to everyone who voted and to Cleo, Lynn and Drew for helping me to promote – 1300 votes is amazing!

Here is your winning story again…Happy Halloween!

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.

Stevie can be found here: http://www.someonereadthis.com/ // @ApacoTaco 

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

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 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.