October 2017 Competition

Mon, Oct 2 2017 10:10pm IST 1
1279 Posts

Ghost story

The second best novel I read this year was Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.

All Hallows' Eve approaches: a day to remember the dead. Not just saints and dearly beloved but others as well--the bad, the unquiet--those who couldn't pass peacefully and wait for a chance to return. For revenge, for love, for justice, for closure.

Shiver my timbers and scare me witless. And make me care.

Up to 400 words excluding title by the witching hour - midnight on 31st October in whatever time zone you find yourself.

Mon, Oct 2 2017 11:40pm IST 2
809 Posts
I think I need a ghost writer.
Tue, Oct 3 2017 10:51am IST 3
814 Posts
Looking forward to this one - nice choice, Bric.
Tue, Oct 3 2017 11:08am IST 4
3685 Posts

In the Real World

‘…and of course, there’s Spiteful Jack…’ Nelly closed the shutters against the bitter, October wind; snicking them tight, top, middle and bottom with wooden latches.

Tom hugged his knees, a small figure on a rag rug.

‘It’s just a story, darling. Creatures like that one don’t exist in the real world.’

When the oil lamp was lit, brightening the room, she gathered her six-year-old son in her arms and sat on the bentwood rocker, telling him more of the ghost stories he loved, holding him until his eyelids fluttered shut. The child’s even breathing filled her senses, soothing her jittery nerves.

‘Time for dreamland, sweetheart,’ she murmured into his hair.

Once he was settled in the trundle bed, a worn quilt made from bits of old clothing tucked around his slim form, Nelly stoked the fire and waited.

Shadows danced as the flames grew bolder. Grotesque silhouettes of everyday items, stretched up the bare walls, bending at right angles onto the ceiling.

The shutters rattled and strained. Tom turned over in his sleep. Nelly held her breath.

They came unheard and unseen. A chill touch on her cheek, a prod between her shoulder blades.

Bangs against the table top hard enough to make the chipped cups rattle and spoons tinkle. A tattered book dropped from the shelf, thudding at her feet.

Nelly remained were she was.

The lamp dimmed as the wick retracted, leaving only firelight.

Coloured orbs danced around the room, whizzing like Catherine wheels, leaving an afterglow that Nelly tried to blink away.

‘Leave him,’ a female voice whispered in the gloom.

‘Never,’ Nelly replied, clenching her hands into fists.

‘He will kill you…’

‘Not if he’s loved enough.’ She knew the voices; heard them in her dreams.

‘Love is never enough, girl.’ A man’s voice, harsh and bitter.

‘Mine is.’ Nelly waited for them to leave.

‘We’ll see,’ the female sighed.

The lamp brightened and the shadows returned to normal.

A knock on the door made her jump, her heartbeat skipped and steadied. She turned the key, standing back as a tall shape stepped inside.

‘Are you alright, Nelly? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.’

‘I’m happy you’re home, Jack. We’ve had visitors, again.’

‘Don’t listen to them, love. I would never harm you or the boy.’

Nelly watched her husband rinse blood off his hunting knife.

Word count 392

Tue, Oct 3 2017 08:08pm IST 5
873 Posts
Great topic Bric, looking forward to it
Tue, Oct 3 2017 09:28pm IST 6
223 Posts
I once wrote a short story consisting of nothing but the word 'potato' repeated over and over. It was pretty scary, mainly because it apparently worked.

I'm not posting it here Laughing
Wed, Oct 4 2017 11:54am IST 7
1444 Posts

Skull Room

The place I chose had decent reviews. Something different from the usual Travelodge gloop. Ye Olde Black Boy, a quirky pub according to the tagline. I found it hidden up an alleyway not far from the train station. Perfect, I thought. The musty smell as I entered hit my nostrils like the Kings Cross to Hull express I'd not long ago alighted. I crossed the stone - tiled floor towards an attractive red-haired woman behind the bar.

She pointed towards a jar of Vicks perched next to a condiment set, 'Try a smidgeon of that on your septum dear - new customers find it helps.'

'I'll be fine thank you, Madam.' I said raising my brow.

' I'm, Hannah. Robert Dann, I take it?'

I nodded. She handed me a key with a tag bearing the name, Skull Room and with a flourish, gestured to a winding staircase with a Residents Only sign attached.

The room gave the appearance of great age, wood beams, inglenook with fire lit and leaded stained-glass windows. The quaint bedchamber smelled of lavender - thank the Lord. I spent the time before dinner rehearsing my speech for the following day then had a nap.

Seated in the dining area mustiness gone a tall, thin man approached and spoke, 'Ah, you must be the new arrival? I'm John, your host. I trust the room is to your liking?'

'Yes thank you, Hannah welcomed me. She apologised for your absence. Said you were in the cellar.'

He took my order and returned to the bar - stopped halfway and turned as if he was about to say something. He just smiled and carried on.

I slept well in the four-poster except for a bone-chilling moment sometime after midnight. I awoke when the mattress sprang up as though someone had got out. I was panting, sweaty, pyjamas dishevelled? I looked toward the fireplace saw sparks rising up the chimney. A log had dropped.

After breakfast, John came to my table and said, 'By the way, you said Hannah welcomed you yesterday? The only Hannah I knew of was a prostitute. Murdered here in 1898. That's her skull in your room - builders found it during renovations after the second world war. I was allowed to keep it.

As I entered the conference centre, I checked my ticket.

2017 Paranormal Convention - Guest Speaker.

The Reverend Robert Dann.

Word count 399 ex title. Innocent

Wed, Oct 4 2017 04:13pm IST 8
2188 Posts
The Stamford apple

The bulk of him, his tall, broad-shouldered shadow, blotted out the sun as we crossed the neglected lawn. (The gardener’s boy one of the first to join up; just last month we heard he’d lost a leg.)
Not able to keep silent I was aware I was babbling, telling him of the varieties of apple that would develop from the tight silver-green buds, uncertain whether birdsong adequately filled the silence that would otherwise lie between us.
He tripped on a root, lurched sideways and to deflect his clumsiness, echoed my words.
‘Peace good, none such? – bit prescient for an apple, what?’
His laughter bitter as the fruit I’d been describing; I knew not whether for the war to which he perforce returned or for being stuck with me.

‘Why don’t you show Simon the orchard?’ my sister had instructed, as she steered his brother officer to the stables. Not to look at horses. Not that I was supposed to know that. No more than Simon could be supposed to know that I was but fifteen.
But old enough to know what he most wanted.
To know he would be tempted, as an apple tempts by its taut roundedness, its ripe promise of sweet white flesh.

I should have remembered that when an apple falls from the tree it retains its apparent wholeness for a while but when turned reveals a pecked and tarnished hollowness, flesh soft and stained, teeming with unwanted life. Much as did my belly, promising to become as big as Mrs Peasgood’s much-famed fruit,

Eight months later, the Times told of Simon’s death in France.
I’d known for days.
The pale stain on the floorboards of the summerhouse where, with desperate, clumsy, shouting violence, he had taken me had grown apace with me. Had become the size, the shape, of an unborn child.
Twelve days ago it turned to black.
Last night I prised the floorboards up. Buried beneath them my swaddled babe. Bleached black stain to innocence.
But every October, forever after, each time I returned, I heard its piteous cry.

[346 words]

Sun, Oct 8 2017 06:35pm IST 9
2389 Posts
Mon, Oct 9 2017 10:50pm IST 10
63 Posts
Again and again it spun, twisted, and roiled, a vile disembodied thing. This tiny space had become it’s entire world. Bones, now reduced to tiny grains, swirled amongst the dust and hair as it churned around in its own dried remains. There were memories in here too, blurred and marred by a bitter, violent, madness. Faces? Perhaps it once had a face of it’s own? A long forgotten one, now reduced to a stale, shapeless dust.
It did remember one face. A man’s cruel face, the memory twisted and deformed by years of madness into something vile and monstrous. The terrifying scene played over and over. That face, looming above, framed by the opening of the trunk as the lid came slamming down. It was the face of its torturer, its keeper. Hatred flared and sparked as it slamed and charged around inside the box, as it had done countless times before, all thought and memory faded to rage and violence. It thrashed and screamed into the cramped silent blackness, never tiring, never resting.

“Mrs Stuart?” A thick glaswegian accent called up from the depths of the cellar.
“Mrs Stuart?”
Why did Brian have to hire these coarse, horrible men, and slope off to bloody London all week? Leaving them here with their noise and foul language. It was his damned cinema room they were building for goodness sake. “Mrs Stuart? There’s something here you might like tae see.” Bloody hell, this had better be important.
“Yes. Thank you Hamish. I’ll be right down.” They wouldn’t call her for no good reason, they’d learned that lesson last week when they’d had the audacity to expect her to wait on them with tea and biscuits. The thought still niggled, the cheek, as if she had nothing better to do? Best go down there, before those imbeciles dig through a gas pipe or something. The treacherous cellar steps were steep, narrow and worn, at least it was well lit down here. “What is it?”
“We’ve found a box, buried behind the cellar wall. Come have a wee look.” Hanging half in and half out of the excavated cellar wall was an, iron banded wooden trunk. It was truly ancient, but still sturdy. It was deeply discoloured from its years underground. “D'ye want us tae open it?”
“Well, we aren't likely to find out what's inside otherwise are we Hamish?”

398 carefully selected words.

Tue, Oct 10 2017 12:26pm IST 11
57 Posts
A little dust

No matter how house proud Mamma was, scrubbing, sweeping and scouring, there was always dust. She hated it, running cloths across surfaces, disrupting and disturbing it, causing it to float, to mote in the air. Glinting on a sunny day, invisible in the dark.

That dust was part me, dead skin cells that I had no more need of. Part Mamma, and part Granny Rosalie too. We were mingled in the hard to reach corners, behind radiators, swirled in with insects and crumbs, old pennies.

I was close with Granny Rosalie, much closer than with Mamma. She’d been in the parlour for months since she couldn’t manage stairs anymore. She knew she was passing that day. I did too, a soft late autumn day, only a few tattered yellow leaf-rags clinging on. It felt fitting.
“I have a gift for you,” Granny Rosalie whispered. “I’m sorry I don’t have time to school you in it, but it must be passed.”
I smoothed her hair back from her forehead, heated, pale and papery. Watched in shock as she raised her left hand up to her mouth and tore her fingernail clean off. The skin underneath was shockingly pink and healthy looking.
“Eat this,” she told me. I froze, trying to process what she’d said.
“Quick, before your mother comes in,”
So I did. I expected it to scratch, to lodge in my throat and make me cough, but it didn’t. It might have dissolved for all I felt.
“Child, I hope you learn to judge as fairly as you observe. Look for me under the bare willow at All Hallows Eve.”


I was left alone in the house with Mamma. I slept badly, always restless, thinking of Granny. Resenting Mamma.
She grew more obsessed with her battle against slovenliness, and now I had become the enemy. Every moment I sat, or paused in my chores and let my thoughts drift became an insult to her. It was the season for spiders, spinning their little webs inside. The dust seemed thicker every day, for all of our efforts.

I was unschooled in the gift. My half remembered dreams stirred the dust, made it dance. Delighted in my new abilities. Then, I made a homunculus from it, three generations of skin and dirt. It crawled inside Mamma’s throat and choked off her life.

Granny turned away from me on All Hallows Eve.
Wed, Oct 11 2017 07:33pm IST 12
1576 Posts

I always liked Dad’s recliner, when I got a chance to sit in it. After he died Mum didn’t have the heart to get rid of it even though it takes up so much space in her lounge. I’m visiting her on a chilly autumn day, reclining while she makes tea. So cold today. I had the heater on full blast all the way down the A40 but the cold still got into my bones and I rub my hands together in an effort to warm up. My left arm aches around the wrist. We’re none of us getting any younger I suppose.

‘Here you go, love.’ Mum’s back. She hands me the tea and I take it with my right hand. She has a plate of biscuits as well so I put the tea down and help myself to one.

‘Go on, take two. It won’t do any harm.’

I look at her hand as she offers the plate. The skin is shiny and looks almost loose, like a wrapper on her skeleton. I say, ‘How, have you been, Mum? You’re looking a bit tired today.’

‘Oh, nothing to worry about. You mustn’t worry about things - not now.’

Her voice is reassuring, but it seems an odd thing to say. What does she mean ‘not now’? The pain in my wrist is getting worse and I’m feeling colder. My eyes are drawn to the old gas fire, but it’s on as usual. She always has it on. The wind is getting up outside; there’s quite a roar against the windows.

‘Mum, what do you mean, I mustn’t worry now?’ And as I speak, the curious thing is that I can hardly hear my own voice for the noise of the wind. Mum looks at me and there’s such sympathy in her eyes as she places her old hand on mine. Not pain now – agony, and the cold is intense and somehow the wind is in the house and tearing at my clothes.

I look and the roar of the wind pours from her mouth and I remember she died years ago. And it isn’t her, it’s a stranger, strapped into her seat and her eyes are wide and her mouth a circle of terror and beyond her a man in his seat. I reach for my own belt but my hand has gone and below the ground approaches.

Wed, Oct 11 2017 07:33pm IST 13
1576 Posts
Oh, 400 words
Wed, Oct 11 2017 09:39pm IST 14
Neil Evans
Neil Evans
641 Posts



It was the third time I’d asked in ten minutes, but Jenkins still replied professionally.

“Nothing, skipper, but I’ll keep trying.”

I nodded and stared out of the bridge window. I fished the Marlboro’s out of my pocket, tapped the pack on the edge of the instrument panel, raised it to my mouth and pulled a cigarette out with my teeth. I tossed the pack onto the table at Jenkins’ side, he took one before passing the pack onto Kenyon as I again searched the world outside.

Totally irregular and against orders, smoking on the bridge, but something inside me said it wasn’t a problem.

The sun had begun its climb up and away from the ice fields around us, up into a strangely pink sky. Not unpleasant, but surprising all the same, even after all these years of sailing these waters.

I pulled on my coat, looked across again at my radio operator. He shook his head.

“Nothing, Sir, like it’s just us awake in the world.”

I pulled my hood over my head and stepped out into the biting wind, wanting to feel its sharp claws prove to my brain I was still breathing. It took all of my skill to keep the Marlboro alight as the icy needles assaulted my barely exposed skin, the ship rocking gently against its anchor.

Something in my mind wouldn’t go away, didn’t compute. Something about the light, too much of it, too early in the day. I glanced at my watch, not understanding.

One became two, lit from the first. Two became three.

Chain-smoking. What would Helen think. I sighed, shook my head, turned back and walked back onto the bridge.

“Sir….” The words were quiet and distant, from another planet, not twenty feet away, “….you should see this.”

Kenyon was sitting on a table, looking at the floor, strangely pale. Jenkins held out a piece of paper, eyes rimmed, his hand shook.

“I picked up a transmission, on a loop. I think it’s Gander, transmitting morse. I don’t understand how.” He shrugged, confused, as I took the paper.

The words stood out.

‘We commend all crews and passengers in transit to the mercy and love of almighty god this night of Armageddon. Message ends.’

Buzzing in my ears. No Kenyon. No Jenkins.

There was another standing there, arms open, waiting.

His name is Lucifer. And he is abroad.

399 words

Thu, Oct 12 2017 11:38am IST 15
248 Posts

For A Penny

For a penny, I died,

For a penny, I died,

For a penny, I died today.

And how much for you, Miss?

Just a penny, good Sir,

Just a penny, good Sir,

For a penny you can have me today.

Then lift up your skirts, Miss,

Let me see what I buy,

Good copper I'll not waste,

Let me see what my penny's worth,

Let me see what I buy today.

Come closer, good Sir,

And you can touch what a penny's worth,

You can feel what a penny's worth,

In old Whitechapel today.

Then let me put my hands to your throat,

Let me put my razor to your skin.

Now that will be a penny's worth,

That will be a grand penny's worth,

To see death in your eyes today.

Now lay me down gently, Sir,

And I'll welcome you in,

While my penny's worth of life leaks away,

And I would but whisper, had my throat you not cut,

That my pox costs you a penny today.

For a penny, no less,

For a penny, I confess,

For a penny, I died today.

Thu, Oct 12 2017 12:08pm IST 16
625 Posts

The night was warm for an October evening, it was normally much colder nearing Halloween, but the warm evenings made for better pickings. The moon stayed hidden behind thick clouds making only the artificial dull orange glow from the streetlamps cast shadows across the graveyard and the group of teenagers cheerfully waiting for their lives to end.

I lay about six feet away, I was trying to rest before the Hallows hunt but the hint of smoke and alcohol filled my nostrils, as their laughter filled my ears. Obviously, nobody had told them that making that amount of noise could ‘raise the dead’.

I stretched my arms and legs in the soil of my grave awakening my numb limbs from there yearly rest. Slowly moving upwards until my hand broke free and was greeted by the warm Autumn air, I pulled myself out my hundred-year-old grave and paused to read my grave stone.

As always the words ‘rest in peace’ haunted me, as no grave is peaceful for the dead or the living.

Laughter broke my pondering, which proved my point and to prove my point further there would be no peace for the teenagers. Their screams will soon be heard echoing throughout the night.

The smell of vomit and sound of coughing marked her as my last victim of the four teenagers, still unaware of how little of there lives they had left. The third was holding her hair but my soon to be first and second were making out next to a mausoleum.

Do I crush their skulls? Do I rip out their intestines and watch them die slowly? Do I rip each limb off slowly so I can taste their fear? Shall I carve them into small pieces and feed them to each other before killing them?


The scream startled me, my ‘to be’ first victims head rolled past me as the seconds body was crushed against the mausoleum, the scream was coming from my fourth mark as her hair had been ripped out by the force of the third being thrown sixth foot in the air, his body almost in slow motion falling back toward the earth waiting to be crushed on impact.

The scream stopped as her throat was ripped out and blood gushed over the grave she was previously vomiting on.

“Evening Clive.” Nodded my grave neighbour. “sorry about that, they were making too much noise”

403 words

Thu, Oct 12 2017 05:18pm IST 17
2389 Posts

UNTITLED (397 words)

I still get it when I hear a siren. That tingle at the nape of my neck and the chill feeling under my skin - like I’d stepped out of a hot bath into cold air. And the mental checklist… You do it too, don’t you? Locate everyone in your head to reassure yourself it couldn’t be one of yours.


They phoned me on the ward. ‘Nurse escort. Don’t wait on the lift.’ I grabbed my cape and ran.

Casualty was going like a fair. I threaded my way through the drunk and discordant to the staff room, where a nurse – I can’t remember who – tugged my arm and led me outside to the ambulance. My patient was in the process of being strapped in. I spied a shock of blonde hair above the blankets as the nurse handed me his notes. ‘Seventeen,’ she said. ‘Motorcycle passenger. Driver walked away without a scratch. This one…’ She shook her head. ‘Ward 20.’

Head injury. ‘What do I need to do for him?’

‘Just get him there.’ She placed his belongings in my hand and I put them in my pocket. ‘You’re getting a police escort and his parents have already left.’

The best place to sit in an ambulance – the only sensible place – is on the floor. So I sat. And held the hand of an unconscious boy who looked as if he were sleeping.

It was late at night – no need for a siren. But the silence was worse. Heavy. Like the weight of responsibility. Someone’s son. Maybe someone’s brother. I powered that blue light with my anxiety. Not a single vehicle got in the way. Not a traffic light at red. We made the journey to the Royal Infirmary in under twenty minutes.

I doubt the outcome would have been different if we’d done it in five.

A nurse came into the staff room as I waited for transport back, and I knew. Recognised the God-I-hate-this-job look. That was the moment I remembered the contents of my pocket. ‘Those poor parents,’ I said, as I poured the chain of a silver Saint Christopher and a packet of Juicy Fruit into her hand. ‘There wasn’t a mark on him.’

She slumped in a chair and kicked her shoes off. ‘You only saw the outside,’ she said, offering me a fig roll. ‘Underneath, his brain was mush.’

Fri, Oct 13 2017 09:33am IST 18
814 Posts
Couldn't resist posting this on Friday 13th.
(although the joke is on me - this is my 5th attempt!)
Apols for double spacing - cloud insisted!
400 words excluding title.

I Am Within

You think it was I behind the slammed doors?

The fallen books?

The whispers as you lie awake?

It was and it wasn’t is all I’ll say. As for your deepest dread, let me assure you.

I’ll never go away.

I’ll taint every waking thought and haunt your dreams.

If you try to hide, I’ll find you. Run, and I’ll give chase.

‘Stop it! Stop it!’

Aye, shake your head and kick the chair.

Plead for mercy. I will give it in the same measure as you dealt it.

Those fists you press against your temples – pity you didn’t keep them pinned there.

So many years of suffering they inflicted.

‘So I had a temper – but she knew how to stir it! Knew how to press my buttons!’

Your meals were served cold, old man, because you stayed out late.

Things were dropped only in fear.

The whining was utter dread, knowing she would end up on the floor herself

- like that magazine you’ve swiped.

Oh look, we’re walking out of the door.

Didn’t you hear me? You’ll never shake me off.

Go on, run into the woods. Feel the shadows close in like predators.

Those branches hurt, don’t they? Their scratch to your face, it bleeds.

See how it feels to hit the ground. Curl up like an antiquated foetus. Cry like a child.

But I’m still here.

Hungry for torment.

I feed from your unease, you see.

‘I didn’t kill her. I didn’t! It was all her own doing, not mine!’

Except you know that is a lie.

You punched all hope from her. Kicked away her spirit.

Locked her in with the spiders and hid the key.

She did no more than she felt she must to escape your torture.

‘Be silent! No! I refuse to listen!’

Nothing doing. You’ll hear me as she was forced to hear you.



‘Look, love, let’s stop all this pretence. I know it’s you who haunts me and for what it’s worth, I’m sorry. You’ve made your point, and you’ve got your peace if only you’ll move on. Now, please, let me have mine!’

You’re wrong, old man. She is not at peace.

She is the unquiet who throws the books and slams the doors.

But it is not she who torments your soul.

It is I, and I will never relent.

For I?

I am your conscience.

Fri, Oct 13 2017 09:33am IST 19
814 Posts
... and it seems it posted itself in whatever spacing it liked!
Sat, Oct 14 2017 11:53am IST 20
223 Posts
Beyond the confines of my novella series, I just can't write horror stuff. I'm more at home with black comedy, so you can have that and like it, DQ be damned Laughing
Sun, Oct 15 2017 12:22pm IST 21
67 Posts

JAM FACTORY, 400 words

Nobody thinks they will find a pussycat on the beach. I mean, not like that. Only I’d spent an exhausting week in town watching theatre. I love theatre because I am better than most people. Now was the time to pleasure my less cerebral elements, I thought as I chased after this tiny pussycat along the beach.

Ginger and freckled, and with a smile on his handsome face, he turned every now and then, in the whiskers. I’m sure he knew I followed from one hundred yards behind. But then his smiled waned and he scurried into a revolting and dilapidated beach hut.

With my binoculars swinging at my chest, I stepped toward the cracks in this beach house. A generator whirred from inside the hut, and curious, I peered through a knot in the woodwork.

What horror I witnessed could never be placed into words or language comprehensible to an idiot reader.

The pussycat, once bare-headed, now sat to attention on a shelf. He wore a pumpernickel helmet of the Great War era on his head, I think and he purred, admired the fat bloated pig-man at his elbow. This man wore only dirty white underpants, hairy and dirty like a Hollywood producer, his arm operated a mangle, and into this mangle pussycats were corralled and herded by pumpernickel cat who held a whip in his hand.

Then the dead cats passed a generator-controlled hob and finally the essence, a red dribble-drool poured at the end stage into sterilized jars. I perceived the label ‘Granny’s Best Marmalade Waitrose Essential Item.’

Possibly the man in the white underpants was masturbating. I cannot be certain. There was not room to swing a cat or masturbate in the hut, crammed as it was to the ceiling with jars of cat jam.

Like a true hero I endeavoured to end this vile practise, eliminate the man in pants and possibly rescue Pumpernickel cat and taste the jam for myself, being as there was no way I might possibly ever afford a Waitrose Essential item because I spend all my money on theatre tickets, and also eat mainly porridge from the mobile Happy Shopper vehicle. Their driver is my friend.

I banged on the hut.

‘Stop killing cats,’ I said, but then a paw reached from under the door and grabbed my sandal, pulled me toward the mangle and the shelves of Waitrose
Tue, Oct 17 2017 08:07am IST 22
2188 Posts
Bump - such good reading here!
Wed, Oct 18 2017 08:12pm IST 23
238 Posts


The key, I turn and the music box plays tinkling notes of a tune from days far away. Nothing more for the family but just for me a little voice inside the melody “come and play with me Annie”. How exciting, a friend just for me, one only I can see. Imaginary, mama calls her, I call her Melanie as she does prefer. Alone at last, I turn the key and welcome back Melanie. She teaches me a game she often plays, it’s called “Crime and Punishment”, she says.

First Nutmeg, cat shouldn’t scratch a little girl’s leg it’s not nice, so on the culprit’s tail slice, slice goes the knife. Next comes Patrick, little boys shouldn’t pull on their sister’s hair so we punish him, tumble, tumble down the basement’s stairs. Next baby Alice is fun, the easiest to punish as she’s got nowhere to run. Little sisters should learn for their toys to share, so we give a little tip and topple, topple bouncy baby down the high chair.

Papa doesn’t see but mama looks at me funny so we plan Melanie and me. Huddled in the closet tight, she whispers to me at night. She tells me about her family how they locked her in the attic and called her a freak. Beat her until there was nothing left of her but she came back and their skulls she cracked. Never trust your family, she tells me. So we listen behind locked doors when mama tells papa my behaviour she deplores. For punishment, my music box away they should take and with her mean words, seals all their fate.

Finally, the family’s turn, like chestnuts in a stove, crackle, crackle bones as they burn. Be nice to your little girls otherwise up to heaven you’ll go in smoky swirls. The two of us escape, holding hands, watching the flames make a funny shape. Everybody dust apart from kitty, which already sleeps buried deep under the oak tree. They should have never threatened to take Melanie away from me.

To the orphanage, they take me, the girl with a music box and no family. My new roommates taunt and tease, mean little girls do to me as they please. I don’t mind because at the end of the day, when all are asleep I turn the key for it is our time to play.

396 excluding title.

Sun, Oct 22 2017 07:38pm IST 24
1084 Posts

400 words exactly excluding title.

(PS Sorry if you've read a version of this before. It's recycled - maybe even upcycled, hopefully!)

Mon, Oct 23 2017 09:40pm IST 25
181 Posts

The Howls

How many times do you sit in silence, pondering life and all its complexities? Not that often I guess. But silence can be somewhat enlightening on how battered your soul is.

Silence was forced upon me, many years with nothing to do but confront the turmoil, the anger, bitterness, and then eventually, the reluctant acceptance. That's not the end it, when you listen with intent, your soul will find the howls and then, my friend, you will listen like you've never listened before.

I didn't kill her, she killed me, all truth be told. An axe to my heart, that dirty, cheating bitch. The court heard I strangled her, not hard enough, I should've severed that head from her beautiful, wonderful body. My God, how the curves of her body taunted me through the months to come.

I insisted on solitary, I'd kill anyone who came near me, you see? I wasn't scum like the rest, didn't need to be near them, had no connection with their shit lives, and I wasn't prepared to listen to their nonsense. Many, many hours I spent tossing and turning, tears falling for my disgusting pig of a wife, when one day it all seemed to pass. Just like that.

Then the howls.

I shouldn't have tried so hard to find my soul. I should've left it with reluctant acceptance and used it to start again, but I delved too deep, explored too far, the howls whistled into my physical being like a seal gale crashing along the coast.

Night after night, the howls would taunt, I could hear her amongst the orchestra, the cries and final chokes of death. The confessions, the deceit, the laughing echoes of my screaming soul. The howls didn't leave, they don't believe in respite, don't even care. My very soul doesn't care. And nobody listens to my physical self anymore, everyone has given up, insanity beckons but I'm already insane. My soul screams.

But wherever I go the howls will follow, a step or two behind, sometimes all-consuming, sometimes barely noticeable, but there nevertheless. One day I will walk free, with the howls still whispering their song.

And what of you, my friend, when you reach your time? What will the howls of your soul say about you? Of all your deeds and doings, the howls are conscious and ever-judging.

More than you will ever be aware. Maybe.

398, excluding title

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