#NGHW 300-Word WINNER! Naching T. Kassa

Winner for episode #138

The Laughing Man

by Naching T. Kassa

The heart was still warm when I found it near the latrines. It hung from the barbwire fence like some hellish Christmas ornament, dripping blood into the muck below. I wasn’t sure who it belonged to.

It might’ve been Private Jefferson’s or Lieutenant Blackmore’s. They’d gone missing and Sargent Collins had laid the blame on the Hun’s doorstep. I knew the truth, though. My mum had told me long before I took up my gun and gasmask.

“Go to sleep, Johnny,” she’d said one night before bed. “Sleep before Laughing Man comes. If he catches you awake, he’ll rip your heart out and hang it up to dry.”

“Does he come every night,” I had asked.

“He does. If you smell almonds, he’s coming. And, if you hear him whisper your name, he’s testing to see whether you’re awake.”

“What if I can’t sleep?”

“Best pretend, love. Pretend and pray.”

The memory of her words kept me from the trench and the squirming shadows which filled it. I returned to my dug-out as quickly as I could.

The blanket had grown cold in my absence. I huddled under it and would’ve drifted off if the scent of almonds hadn’t wafted in.

“Johnny?” a voice whispered.

I froze. Something moved in the moonlight. It dropped to all fours and peered through my doorway.

“You awake, Johnny?”

Moonglow didn’t favor the creature. Instead, it laid bare every flaw in his leprous face. I shut my eyes but the image of oozing sores remained. He hadn’t changed.

“Johnny?”

I answered with a snore as I had always done. A moment later, his cold hand clutched my throat.

“I’ve always known you were awake,” he said.

Laughter echoed throughout the dug-out and, like a malevolent lullaby, it bore me to my final rest.


Listen to the contestants battle for points this season on HorrorAddicts.net

#NGHW TOP Seven 300-word Stories

TOP 7 / 300-WORD STORIES featured on #138

  1. 1: LARVAE by Sumiko SaulsonLARVAE – A sliver of sunlight pierced the stagnant air of the subbasement, illuminating claw marks in the mossy walls. Under the stream of light I observed bloodstains at the base of my torn nailbed. I winced. The iron-rich smell would attract the creature.Its piteous mewling arose from the depths. I nervously kicked soil into the tunnel at my feet. I had to escape before it returned. Clutching the soil, my fingers dug deep within. Quickly, I ascended. I was six feet up when I felt a tug at my feet. Looking down in horror, I witnessed the creature’s bloated, white body creeping up my pants leg.

    “Get off me, foul thing!” I screamed, kicking the hideous larvae. It was three feet long. Its maw oozed putrescent yellow fluids reeking of fetid lard. That evil oral emanation hit toe of my sneaker, melting canvas and eating away at flesh. I screamed in pain, kicking loose the shoe, sending the maggot dropping below with it.

    The small crevice at the top of the well was just feet away. Heart racing, I redoubled my efforts to scale the wall. A nail broke with a gut-wrenching crack. I felt blood rush out from under the cloth, hot and sticky. I began to calculate how much pressure it would take to knock the wooden cap off the well.

    A new sound emerged. Loud buzzing that grew rapidly closer. I felt wiry hairs touch the back of my neck. Against my will, I turned to look.

    A monstrous fly stared at me with its compound eye. It’s voice, high-pitched and querulous, vibrated against my maddened eardrum. “I bet you didn’t know we evolved,” it said, arrogantly hissing before its mandibles slid into the unyielding flesh of my eyelid, tearing asunder the fragile orb underneath.

    2: THE PET by Daphne Strasert

    THE PET

    You first found your precious baby while she cowered under a car—tiny, trembling, more fur than flesh. Such a helpless angel… you couldn’t leave her to the cruelty of the streets.

    You recline on the couch, Netflix droning in the background and your snuggle muffin nuzzled against your chest. Her breathing lulls you into the blissful space between sleeping and waking. You stroke her fur, careful to avoid the sharp spines, and trace each of the prominent bones that protrude from her back. The tip of her tail coils around your wrist, forming a vice of soft hair. Loving cupcake, you’d do anything to keep her happy.

    You coo at her and she raises her head, blinking each of her four eyes in turn. A rumbling hum passes from her body through yours and she stretches to rub her nose against your arm. She nibbles at your finger and three rows of jagged teeth prick your skin, a minor pain while you swim in an ocean of bliss. Warmth trickles along your hand, followed by the rasp of your sweet pumpkin’s tongue and a crunch as her jaw snaps bone. You murmur affectionate words of encouragement. You would never deprive her of happiness over something as insignificant as an appendage. She gnaws at the edges of your mangled finger, mewing between nips.

    Blood and flesh—you have plenty to spare for your darling. After all, your body is useless if it cannot cater to her. Any pain is worthwhile if you can provide what she needs. Isn’t that what you want? To be with her—a part of her—together forever? You’ll give anything for your dear pet. Even your life.

    Especially your life.

    Story 3: LINGUA by JC Martinez

    LINGUA

    The rotten smell comes from the body it left in the shower. It’s grown worse. It’s almost my time.

    I hear something. A muffled splash, like a wet towel hitting the floor repeatedly. Its footsteps. Then, another sound, like the towel getting wrung. It’s disposing of the body. It’ll come for me next.

    I close my eyes as the closet doors fly open. I close them hard, but I still see it. There’s nothing human about its shape, except for the… tongues. It’s all made of lilac tongues, grouped together like tangled hanks of yarn. I don’t know how it sees, for it has no eyes. I can make out no noses or ears either, just those tongues that wiggle wildly in all directions.

    It grabs me by the waist, pulls me toward it. God, no. It yanks my feet, lifting me effortlessly. The tongues are everywhere now, all over my legs and arms and torso, leaving a slimy trail that dries swiftly over my skin.

    Its tongues are over my closed eyes too. It pulls gently at my eyelids, as if caressing them. I want to scream, but I don’t. All I can do is cry silently, and that’s exactly what it wants.

    It tastes my tears. It drinks them.

    Over the next weeks, it’ll keep me alive, feeding me that strange marmalade that I don’t know where it gets from. It’ll keep me alive, savoring my tears and sweat and saliva, and any other body fluid that it craves.

    After it grows tired of my taste, it’ll leave me to starve to death in that putrid shower. I’m not sure how it’ll do away with my body, but since I can see no other, I guess it’ll devour it whole.

    So much for an open-casket funeral.

    Story 4: BLOODWORM by Jonathan Fortin

    BLOODWORM

    It started with wriggling under her fingernails. Sam ignored the feeling. It was late, and most of the office had left, but she had to finish this report.

    Then came heat, flushing her back and brow with sweat. Sam slipped off her hoodie. She was probably reacting badly to the meds she’d ordered off eBay. They’d looked shifty, but she’d had no choice—this scummy place didn’t provide health insurance.

    The wriggling sensation spread through her body. She felt dizzy and numb, her fingers punching random keys. “Shit…” She couldn’t let this distract her from the deadline. She tried to sit up.

    Her body didn’t respond.

    A red worm poked out between her knuckles. Then another, from her wrist.

    Terror hit her like a train. The meds—did they house parasites? Was she now their host? She’d been so stupid to take them!

    She tried to scream, but instead fell off the chair and became fetal on the floor. She choked as worms crawled up her throat and out her mouth like regurgitated noodles. They plugged her nose and burrowed out her eyes, popping them. Pain rushed through her as worms ripped out her back and twisted into sinuous, red-soaked ropes.

    Blind, she felt her body rise up from the floor, like a puppet. She took steps against her will.

    “Sam?” A voice. Her boss! She tried to tell him to run, but her mouth was blocked. Vomit rushed up and back down again.

    She couldn’t stop. Her hand collided with something, just as her boss began to scream. She pummeled over and over amidst wet sounds until the screaming ceased.

    Sam felt his still body with her fingers. She felt worms slip out from her and burrow into him.

    And then, soon after, she heard him stand.

    Together they lurched.

    Story 5: The ODDMENTS Monster by Adele Marie Par

    Corners hold secrets that burst forth like rotting fruit when darkness falls.

    A blackness within the dark. Shapes that form to become objects of dread as they begin to move. A puppet dance with no master.

    This is the jerky, raggedy birth of the Oddments Monster.

    Tommy’s safe world no longer existed. It had exploded into shards when his father died.

    The house became a lifeless tomb that he and his mother shuffled through.

    She trailed dust and dirty clothes behind her.

    Tommy was a ghost, incorporeal, unheard.

    Perfect conditions for the Oddments Monster.

    Wrapped up like a mummy in his bed, Tommy waited. Frightened into silence and rapid puffs of breath.

    A crackling sigh vibrated around the room. A slithering sound followed, evocative of a snake shedding its skin.

    The atmosphere became heavy. He gulped air like a fish stranded on land. He felt compelled to look and when he did…..

    Blackness filled his dirty clothes. A striped t-shirt wavered and flapped. Jeans bent at the knees and wobbled into an upright position. A crusty, grey handkerchief became a face. The centre puckered inwards to form a rudimentary mouth.

    The monster moved.

    Tommy cried.

    It lurched towards him, eyes made from lost buttons. Black as coal with twin, red, pinpricks of evil intelligence behind them.

    The raggedy thing leaned over Tommy’s paralyzed body.

    The stench of its breath was forgotten memories and sorrow.

    “Dust and ashes you will be, Tommy boy.”

    His trembling bladder gave way and the sharp smell of urine drew the monster closer.

    Ancient bubble gum drooled from it’s puckered mouth and dribbled onto Tommy’s face.

    He opened his mouth to scream but the monster kissed him. He tasted death and dirt as the monster sucked his breath.

    Story 6: THE LAUGHING MAN by Naching T. Kassa

    The heart was still warm when I found it near the latrines. It hung from the barbwire fence like some hellish Christmas ornament, dripping blood into the muck below. I wasn’t sure who it belonged to.

    It might’ve been Private Jefferson’s or Lieutenant Blackmore’s. They’d gone missing and Sargent Collins had laid the blame on the Hun’s doorstep. I knew the truth, though. My mum had told me long before I took up my gun and gasmask.

    “Go to sleep, Johnny,” she’d said one night before bed. “Sleep before Laughing Man comes. If he catches you awake, he’ll rip your heart out and hang it up to dry.”

    “Does he come every night,” I had asked.

    “He does. If you smell almonds, he’s coming. And, if you hear him whisper your name, he’s testing to see whether you’re awake.”

    “What if I can’t sleep?”

    “Best pretend, love. Pretend and pray.”

    The memory of her words kept me from the trench and the squirming shadows which filled it. I returned to my dug-out as quickly as I could.

    The blanket had grown cold in my absence. I huddled under it and would’ve drifted off if the scent of almonds hadn’t wafted in.

    “Johnny?” a voice whispered.

    I froze. Something moved in the moonlight. It dropped to all fours and peered through my doorway.

    “You awake, Johnny?”

    Moonglow didn’t favor the creature. Instead, it laid bare every flaw in his leprous face. I shut my eyes but the image of oozing sores remained. He hadn’t changed.

    “Johnny?”

    I answered with a snore as I had always done. A moment later, his cold hand clutched my throat.

    “I’ve always known you were awake,” he said.

    Laughter echoed throughout the dug-out and, like a malevolent lullaby, it bore me to my final rest.

    Story 7: Always Hungry by Cat Voleur

    ALWAYS HUNGRY

    It was horrible when the sound stopped. For the last few hours Kimi had been forced to listen to the slurps of the creature’s messy eating – interrupted only by the occasional cracking and crunching of bone. Sickening though it had been, it was preferable to the silence in which she was now stuck.

    They have an insatiable hunger for human flesh that grows as rapidly as the beasts themselves.

    Her grandmother had believed strongly in the Algonquin lore with which she had been raised, and Kimi had heard many such stories growing up.

    If only I had listened.

    The beast had stopped eating, which could mean only one thing; it was out of food.

    For a moment it lingered, still crouching in the bloodstained snow a safe distance from dying campfire. Elongated limbs extended from the emaciated torso at strange, unnatural angles. Even in the warm glow of the embers Kimi could see that the skin stretched thinly over its skeletal frame was a sickly, mottled gray.

    It was all she could do not to gag as the thing straightened and she caught a whiff of its decaying scent.

    At its full height, she saw that it was clearly taller than it had been prior to the feast, and Kimi gasped at the realization its head would now be level with the branch where she was hiding.

    It turned toward the noise.

    For the first time she could see it in all its grotesque glory. Teeth jutted in all angles from the gaping, gore-filled maw. Its distorted facial features were dripping with blood. Worst were its eyes – two black orbs that were sunken deeply into the deformed skull, reflecting no light.

    She knew in that instant she would not be spared.

    The wendigo is always hungry.


Listen to the contestants battle for points this season on HorrorAddicts.net

HorrorAddicts.net, 138 #NGHW Guest Judge: Mark Eller

Horror Addicts Episode# 138
SEASON 12 – The Next Great Horror Writer Contest

JUDGES:

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Judge: H.E. Roulo

Guest Judge: Mark Eller

Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

———————

The top 7 of the 300 Word Monster Stories.

Find all articles and interviews at: http://www.horroraddicts.net

 

193 Days till Halloween

Intro of judges, prizes, and contest.

Read of 7 300/word stories.

Contestants: Feind Gottes, Naching T. Kassa, Jess Landry, AE Kirk, Timothy G. Huguenin, Sumiko Saulson, Cat Voleur, Quentin Norris, Jonathan Fortin, Adele Marie Park, JC Martinez, Harry Husbands, Riley J. Pierce, Daphne Strasert.

HA.Net News:  #NGHW News by Adelise M. Cullens

By the Fire by David Waston

Scarlett Dahlia by Jesse Orr

Free Fiction by Kay Tracy

Darwin Decay.by J.C. Eickleberg

2017 HorrorAddicts.net Anthology, Clockwork Wonderland coming in May

2018 Anthology, Crescendo of Darkness submissions

Nightmare Fuel by DJ Pitsilatis

Drunk Dracula Where Nightmares Come From

Kenzie Kordic Psychological Horror: The Scariest Of Them All

Crystal Connor Psychos

Kbatz Victor Frankenstein, 2015

David’s Haunted Library: The Final Reconciliation/Skin Deep/Ordinary Monsters by Frank Martin.

Press Releases:

Dark Regions Press Summer of Night by Dan Simmons

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

All of the Flesh Served by Terry M. West

The House of Nodens by Sam Gafford

What do Monsters Fear by Matt Hayward at Post-Mortem Press

World Gone and their new video Feed the Machine

Valentine Wolf. They’ve started production on a new album. Watch behind the scenes video on the blog.

Brian Mosher and his Down and out Art.

Next challenge announced.

Winner announced.

“Broken Pieces” by Valentine Wolfe

http://valentinewolfe.bandcamp.com/track/broken-pieces

HorrorAddicts.net blog Kindle syndicated

http://www.amazon.com/HorrorAddicts-net/dp/B004IEA48W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431022701&sr=8-1&keywords=horroraddicts.net

———————–

Write in re: ideas, questions, opinions, horror cartoons, favorite movies, etc…

horroraddicts@gmail.com

————————

h o s t e s s

Emerian Rich

s t a f f

David Watson, Stacy Rich, Dan Shaurette, KBatz (Kristin Battestella), Mimielle, D.J. Pitsiladis, Jesse Orr, Crystal Connor, Lisa Vasquez, Adelise M. Cullens.

Want to be a part of the HA staff? Email horroraddicts@gmail.com

b l o g  / c o n t a c t / s h o w . n o t e s

http://www.horroraddicts.net

 

 

#NGHW News

Hello addicts!

I tell you what, I thought I was excited before but now, that I have seen what our fearsome 15 are capable of, I am just about imploding with dark delight.

The stories we experienced this week were the words that won our 15 a spot in this comp and it is easy to see why they got in. Some stories made me laugh (maniacally, because my sense of humor is a little messed up) I even got a little teary-eyed. And of course the goose bumps…

And isn’t that one of the best parts about horror?

That moment that turns your skin to gooseflesh, sending a shiver over your body, creeping you out and possibly (if you are so lucky) making you a little skittish.

This is what these authors managed to do in just 100 words.

It takes a lot of talent to write a great 100-word story and our fearsome 15 just nailed it. I’m totally glad I am not on the judging panel because that would be bloody hard.

We also got to learn a bit more about our 15, which was cool. You can learn more about them and even connect with your favs by going here and following them up on the social media. I have spoken to the authors and have a few messages for all you addicts out there…

“I loved listening to all our stories. It felt amazing and I’m still smiling now. I’m enjoying the contest and the challenges set, so far, lol, I’m grateful that I was picked to participate. I’m just so happy about it. I’d like to wish us all good luck in the coming months and a huge thank you to all who arranged the contest and judges and everyone behind the scenes. A big thank you to you as well” -Adele Marie Park

“I’m feeling proud to hear something I’ve written read out on such a well-produced podcast. I’m proud that I’m competing alongside such great horror writers and I’ve really got my work cut out for me.

I just want to say how awesome it is that horror has incredible writers to keep the genre alive and that this contest is doing such a great job of showcasing them. I loved everyone’s stories and it only makes me more excited to see what everyone can produce as the contest develops.” -Harry Husbands

“I am enjoying myself very much, I am writing, and I hope we (as in the addicts) can keep reading the beautiful stories that all the contestants write. I think success is that, to just “make good art” … as Neil Gaiman would say.” -JC Martinez

This week, Emz and Dan also discussed the reasons why these 15 were chosen and why you, if you entered, may have been passed over. So if you entered but are not a chosen one, don’t be disheartened and sit there in the corner screaming “WHY!?” Take a listen, they shed some light and some of the things that they talk about are super important for aspiring writers.

At the moment, all of our 15 are on a level playing field, but that will all change next week … Only the 3 stories will air on the show next week. But only one of them will win that challenge and take home that weeks mini prize.

So, who will you follow? Perhaps you will be on #teamcat – the Dothraki speaking goth – or #teamtimothy – our West Virginian Stephen King – or #teamjess – the girl-next-door who appears sweet on the outside but is creepy on the inside. Let us know in the comments or on the social media.

Stay spooky!

Hugs xxx

Adelise M Cullens

 

#NGHW – Guest Judge : Mark Eller

This week, we welcome guest judge, Mark Eller. Mark will be helping us judge the 300-word Monster stories and reading the winner’s story!

Mark Eller

markMark Eller spent twenty years happily writing stories and then throwing them away. Then he met his future wife. She got mad about him throwing things away so he then happily began writing books, publishing his shorts, and creating audio-fiction podcasts, including The Hell Hole Tavern, Mercy Bend, and Traitor book one of the Turner Chronicles. He can be found most days sitting in his man cave with his fingers busy typing because new stories are constantly running through his head.

By The Fire: Episode 137 100 Word Horror Stories

Hello Addicts, the new season of the Horror Addicts podcast has begun and things are a little different this season. Season 12 of the horroraddicts.net podcast is all about The Next Great Horror Writer Contest. Since the competition was announced we’ve had over 130 people who entered the contest. The first challenge for the writers was to make a 100-word horror story, which brings us to the topic of this blog post. For each new challenge that our contestants perform I will be writing a post about the challenge.  I’ll be calling this series of posts,  By The Fire to give the feeling that we’re sitting by the fire and talking about the topic.

Writing a 100-word horror story is no easy task if you ask me. In just a few words you have to tell a story and scare someone with it. So the most important part of a short scary story is the description. Be it a haunted house, scary monster or possibly a horrific massacre, making it come to life is the most important part of the story. The 100-word horror story is a great test of a writer’s skill because to get a reaction you have to do it quick.

Two other elements that are important to the 100-word horror story is for it to have the main character and a conflict. The main character doesn’t have to be good or bad but he or she does have to be involved in some kind of conflict. It could be someone describing a murder they are about to commit or maybe someone running from a monster, whatever it is there has to be a conflict. So to sum things up there are three important elements to the 100-word horror story: Description, the main character, and conflict.

A great thing about a 100-word story is that they’re a quick way to get to know a new writer.  A good short horror story can pack a wallop and if it’s really good it can revisit you in your nightmares. So horror addicts, do you have a favorite 100-word horror story, or do you want to tell us a 100-word story? If you have a scary tale to tell share it with us in the comments and don’t forget to listen to episode 137 of the podcast to hear some short stories from our Next Great Horror Writer contestants.

#NGHW TOP 100-word Stories

TOP / 100-WORD STORIES

  1. Last Days of Sunlight

by Feind Gottes

Her heart began to pound in her chest as though it would burst at any moment. The steel bands of anxiety tightened threatening to suffocate her. The last beams of light were coming through the window now, ushering in another nightmare filled night. He only crept in to torment her once the sun was gone. Blood dripped to the floor from the dozens of wounds covering her tiny frame. The last ray of sunlight burned out and died signaling a new night of terror. The last, she hoped. A tear rolled down her cheek as the door creaked slowly open.


  1. Bully

By: Naching T. Kassa

Bobby stood by his grandfather’s grave, his eye swollen shut. Cory ran up, Bobby’s blood on his shirt.

“Give me your money,” Cory said, as he halted. “Or I’ll break your nose.”

Bobby glowered at his tormentor. “No. He told me not to.”

Cory glanced around. They were alone in the cemetery.

“Who?”

“My grampa.”

“You’re nuts.”

Bobby flipped him off.

Cory charged forward. Bobby side-stepped him and he fell on the grave.

A dirty skull rose from the earth and sank its teeth into Cory’s throat. He screamed.

“You shouldn’t have come,” Bobby said. “Grampa eats bullies for breakfast.”


  1. MOUNDS

by Jess Landry

The rain started to fall just as I finished up. As the cool mist washed over me, I was reminded of something my Baba had told me when I was little.

“Julia,” she had said. “There will be two great loves in your life. The first will be a beautiful home—”

(Currently burning to the ground)

“—And the second will be a caring, loving man to call your own.”

I tossed the shovel aside. The rain cleared the sweat and grime from my face as I sat on the mound of dirt I had once called my husband.


  1. Lily House

By AE Kirk

Walking down a gravel path at twilight, I made no sound as I stopped and saw a wooden cross that had been taken by the wind. It bore no name. It was just a simple marker. I placed it in my pocket. I passed by the others who came before me; they stared at their marble, their sandstone or slate. I felt sorry for those whose stones were covered by ivy, or ravaged by weather and time. I found my stone, newly cut, placed just today. Lily House. 1994-2000. Rest In Peace. I cried and lay beside my grave, alone.


  1. A True Artisan

by Timothy G. Huguenin

The baker thought of Carol as he kneaded. He’d been captivated by her frame—slight, tender—he loved her.

The dough was too wet. He reached into his flour sack. Empty. He had to make more. A true artisan, he milled his own flour. Nothing like stone-ground flour.

The walk to his shed was cold. No matter; the mill would warm him.

The light from the opening door fell upon his dog, gnawing a bone.

“Git outta there.”

The dog slunk away.

The light expanded to show the old millstone and the bone pile, waiting.

Carol, he thought. He smiled.


  1. Tributaries

By Sumiko Saulson

In horror films, there’s a moment the audience knows our heroine should run. We scream at the idiot looming large before us, hoisted high above on silver lenticular projected through cellulose in particles of light.

Yelling at the movie, I don’t notice the monster leaning against me for comfort. Nearby monsters are difficult to identify.

A raised rash spreads over my shoulder where your head lay against me. Mold spreads outward, green and black tendrils where your fingers grasped mine.

This isn’t your fault.

Now, we are trapped, phantoms in the theater, offstage, in seats below, no audience watching us.


  1. The Count of Three

By Cat Voleur

“I love you,” he said, who had never loved anyone.

“I love you too,” she said, who had loved far too many.

“Together, then?” He asked, though he was not prepared to jump.

“Together,” she said, stepping up onto the ledge beside him.

“The count of three?” He asked.

She was ready, so with a sad smile she started off their count rather than to answer. “One.”

“Two.” He replied.

“Three.” She pushed him off and watched lovingly as he plummeted toward the rushing waters below. He didn’t scream as he fell. That was disappointing. Her other boyfriends had screamed.


  1. Wax on the Doorknob

By Quentin Norris

Emily called me at three in the morning, still breathing hard. She told me she’d seen the man standing behind her in the reflection on her phone. Standing under a streetlamp, he wore a black coat, his face and hands were covered in dripping wax. He’d followed her home, and tried to open her door, and was now standing in her yard. I peeked out the window at her house across the street, yet saw nothing. Everything seemed fine as I walked over, but my heart stopped when I reached for her doorknob and saw wax cooling on its surface.


  1. Fairies

by Jonathan Fortin

Fairies are eating my ex. She lies on a banquet table, smiling at me as they pierce her eyes with needle teeth and drag razor nails down her breasts. My breath quivers. I instinctively know she’s no longer mine, even if we never broke up.

“It’s wonderful, darling,” she says, with a voice that’s not her own. “I am devoured every night, and reborn every morning. I am courted, danced with, and given beautiful dresses.

Dearest, won’t you join me? Won’t you be eaten too?”

I know I should run, but I miss her so much. I reach for her.


  1. Friend

By Adele Marie Park

A scratching, beastly noise. The prick of fear, sharp as a needle quivers through me. I am alone in the house.

I grip the bannister. Knuckles blanched. Only shadows thrown by the electric light.

I climb. My pulse racing deafens sound. Breathing laboured. Suffocating with foreboding.

Sweat moulds hair to my face. I turn the handle and push the door. Shadows sharpen into familiar objects except: an unknown darkness manifests before me.

My throat fills with bile. Frozen in terror. I scream.

Putrid smell of garbage fills my nostrils. Revulsion gags in my mouth as shrivelled lips tickle my ear.


  1. Grandma

By JC Martinez

I close my eyes, because Grandma asked me to do so.

I sit on the floor, behind the bed, as far away as possible from the room’s door, just like Grandma instructed.

The hinges creak. The sound makes me cringe. The footsteps even more so. But it’s just Grandma. I think.

She doesn’t speak, but I feel her breath on my face. I can smell it. Minty. Almost like toothpaste.

Something wraps my nose. Something slimy and wet, like a tongue. Makes me feel… uneasy.

But I don’t open my eyes. I never do.

Because Grandma told me not to.


  1. The Inevitable

By Harry Husbands

The black shape ballooned upward from behind Doctor Forster’s shoulder, then began to take on a human form made entirely of shadow. It was not the first time Michael had seen this figure—though never so close—and with muscles tensed, gripping his knees, he tried listening to the Doctor who spoke with an ashen face of pity.

“It’s cancer, Michael.” The Doctor said before continuing on at length about potential treatments and support groups. Michael paid no attention. His eyes were fixed instead on the apparition and the awful grin that emerged from its otherwise dark and featureless face.

 

  1. Dinner at the Millers

By Riley Pierce

Babysitting for the Millers the first time, Abby pressed the channel button looking for something that would keep her attention long enough to stay awake through dinner. Clutching the baby monitor, she ate another bite and smiled. The colicky child was now silent. It had only taken an hour, but she was proud of herself for handling little Eric and his seemingly endless cries. Happily settling on a cooking channel, she glanced at the clock and wiped his blood from her cheek. Daniel and Jayda would be home soon. Stew next, Abby thought, I think I’d like to try stew.


  1. Till Death

By Daphne Straasert

My bridesmaids would think I’m nuts if I told them. Nothing’s changed about him—he has the same face, same laugh as my fiancé—but he’s different.

The wedding blurs by in a parade of hugs and congratulations. I’m not alone with him until the limo door shuts behind me. In the silence, the air between us chills.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

I slide my hand from his. “You’re not Michael. You’re not my husband.”

His smile doesn’t warm his eyes. “Maybe not Michael… but your husband?” He leans forward so his breath tickles my ear. “Until death do us part.”


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