For me, a horror story begins as a what if. I like to suspend belief when I plunge my characters into a situation, and this also tends to keep me from uber-focusing on only one style or subgenre in horror and dark fiction. I’m just as open to writing evil invisible friends that can end the world as I am vampires, zombies, fairy tale eldergods, or naïve serial killers looking for love.
As you can imagine, my family is very proud.
However, sometime’s it’s hard to jump start an idea, or even find the right way to portray it to get it started on paper.
Flash fiction has always been a challenge for me, but I love writing prompts because they tend to immediately activate the what if portion of my brain. If I have a couple words or a phrase, I’m much more likely to start jotting down something than I am if you tell me “write something scary!”
You do that, you’ll probably get something sarcastic about bunnies, just sayin’.
At any rate, once I have a direction, the rest tends to just…pour out.
This is a classic example. I was taking part in a blogging campaign right when I first started my blog, and there were flash fiction contests every so often. I think the prompt for this was “wall” and I had like five hundred words or so to tell a tale. I love little moments like this, and I still really like this piece. It’s amazing what can come out of a person’s brain in five hundred words one you’re given a direction.
Shadows crept along the wall as velvet grey fingers seared right through the mortar between crumbling bricks. The longer Morgana stared, the more her suspicions were reinforced. The crawling, skittering veins and puddles of effervescent nightmares were not attacking the wall, but were coming from it.
“I stared too long,” she murmured, as if to convince her terrified logic that she was still alive. “I looked too closely and saw into The Wall. Somehow it saw me.” Past scrawled orange graffiti, under the brick, Morgana had seen it. And it had been trapped safely away, because it was evil.
She’d been warned to ignore the Cobbington Village Wall. No one remembered when or why it had been built across Shepherd’s Field, but the entire village population was content to let the whole place fall to neglect if it meant they could ignore The Wall.
“I just had to go for a walk,” Morgana whimpered, unable to move or even blink away from the skulking, oozing touches of the vile nothing that leaked out. “I just had to listen to the talk shows and change things up a bit. I couldn’t just be content watching a movie, eating dinner on my own, and falling asleep on the couch.” What had seemed a horrible prison sentence even thirty minutes ago was suddenly heaven; why had she been so stupid as to long for more than her humdrum, cashier, sweat-suit life?
The black entity that The Wall had held captive for so long oozed and splatted onto the grass. It sucked the life and color away as it claimed the good and simple of everyday life into its clutches. Morgana watched numbly as the ground, the air, the ants at her feet screamed and shriveled into grey nothing. “All I wanted was something different!” she stammered as the tendrils crept towards her toes. “Why did I have to go outside today?”
The rippling darkness chuckled and slowly flowed over her feet like spilled porridge, devouring her beat-up sneakers in its cold, blank grasp. She choked back a cry when the slimy ice feeling gripped her ankles.
“This is better,” the living tar streaming over her feet burbled into her mind. “They tried to hold me back for so long…now I’ll use you to return to Cobbington. We’ll both break free from the village, you and I.” Morgana tried to scream, but the horrible realization that at least her life would finally be interesting actually made her smile as her thoughts stopped becoming her own. For its part, the darkness growled its thanks before everything Morgana knew faded.
Selah Janel writes in many genres and wrecks them all. When she’s not writing, she’s making trolls and other costumes. Check her out at the following places: