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The Monster Inside saw its prey from across the playground and smiled. It began to stalk the sweet, tender morsel.

Donald saw the little angel as she jumped off the swing, the petticoat of her little frock billowing sweetly around her thighs. He licked his lips nervously, glancing around out of habit. A bad one, that, it made him look exactly like the pedophile he was. He would have to break that habbit, he told himself and not for the first time. But the girl was moving, crossing the playground and waving bye-bye to her friends. It was time to hunt.

Donald slowly stood, giving the little blond-haired moppet plenty of time to pick her direction. East, she went, and East he followed. He was careful to keep a good distance, half a block or more. Enough to keep her in sight, but not so close that he actually looked like he was following her. This technique had worked successfully six… no, seven times before. He almost forgot that one in Seattle. She had been so lovely, how could he nearly forget her?

He wondered if they had found her body yet. Not that it mattered, there was nothing to connect him to her. He picked his little playthings at random, and never near his hotel. Just like this little angel.

She turned North and he followed her. His pulse was beginning to quicken, he knew. He tried to keep himself calm. Sweaty, nervous-looking middle aged men in rain coats following little girls tended to stick out in people’s minds. He raked his thinning hair over his pattern bald spot, ordering himself to calm down. As extra insurance, he pulled out his cell phone and pretended to talk into it. Pedophiles never discussed business on phones while hunting, right? Everyone knew that.

The blonde darling skipped a few steps, and then turned and walked down a flight of stairs to the lower level of a tenement. He heard the door shut behind her. No sound of a lock being thrown, and she didn’t call out to anyone. A latch-key kid then. They were the best.

Donald glanced around to see if anyone was looking, and then followed the girl down the stairs. He eased open the door and slipped inside. It took his eyes a moment to adjust to the substantially dimmer light inside. The room had clearly once been a laundry room, long since abandoned to that purpose. Graffiti covered the walls. The paint was faded and peeling. A perfect place for the hunt to end.

His little blonde angel was standing near the far wall, facing him. He smiled his most reassuring smile. “Hello little girl. Can you help me?” he edged closer.

“You can help me,” she replied. The lights dimmed and some… thing… emerged from the girl: smoke and shadow and cold, with long claws and teeth like the Reaper’s Scythe.

Donald screamed.

Angie watched impassively until the Monster Inside was done and back within her. She dipped a finger in Donald’s blood and added vertical line to the twelve already present on the wall behind her.  Her dimples appeared as she smiled.

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Update 10/20/2011

Sorry I haven’t been posting every day (you may all cheer now). Doing back-end stuff for The Writer’s Bloc has been taking up a large chunk of my time, as has rewriting Blood: Fury and reading critiques of Still-Life, with Snowflake.

Hopefully that will all slow down now, and I can move on and get back to pestering everyone with daily nonsense.

There’s still time to enter our Flash Fiction Challenge for Octobrrr.

And if you haven’t done so yet, head by Haley’s site and enter her contest. You could win a prize.

Octobrrr horror for your amusement.

(Week) Night of the Living Dead

The Windows, My Eyes

The Creature Over the Bed

The Venice Accord

Il Masque

Starlight on the Water

Sarahann’s Warning by Ozlem Yikici

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(Week) Night of the Living Dead

In response to my own flash-fiction challenge, Sunday in the Park with Freddie.

“Hey, deadboy, isn’t it past your bedtime?”

The jeers mocked me as I shuffled down the street. I slowly turned my head to look, and as I suspected, it was Bret and his football jock buddies. They were hanging around outside the coffee shop on Main, looking all clean and neat in their letterman jackets and copious hair product. I tried to avoid looking down at myself in comparison, but it was inevitable. Old jeans with more holes than fabric, sneakers a size too small that only fit because my big toes had fallen off last summer during the school camping trip, a moldy tee shirt with faded print reading Bite Me. Yeah, I’m so ironically hip it hurts.

They knew they were safe, mocking me. They were right, it was a week night and I was late getting home. I didn’t have time to chase them down. Mom was already going to be mad at me. The only silver lining was that, since her larynx had rotted away, she has to write out her complaints. Hopefully she’ll accidentally chop off her fingers soon.

Stupid Bret and his stupid friends. Just because they still had pulses, they thought they were so special. Part of the ‘clean,’ as the living liked to style themselves. As if we could help being dirty. YOU try living your life with maggots in your nostrils and gangrene slowly eating away at your limbs and tell me how clean YOU manage to stay after a few years.

The worst part was that these jerks used to be my friends. I used to be on the team, till that damned cheerleader from Penn Hills bit me. Now, all they did wa

Still, sometimes you have to put in appearances. As they hooted and laughed at me, I turned suddenly towards them. Well, as suddenly as I could. My left leg had been feeling fairly fragile lately, I didn’t want to risk snapping an ankle. Getting to homeroom on time was hard enough as it was, I didn’t need that kind of complication.

There was no way I could possibly catch them, by myself, at my speed. Still, it was gratifying to see the smug expressions vanish as they scrambled to their feet. The table clattered over, spilling their drinks as they struggled to get clear of the roped-off dining area with the signs declaring that it was for ‘Breathers Only.’  The alarm on their faces was almost worth the price of admission as I opened my mouth wide and pantomimed biting them.

They bolted. I smiled gingerly and continued on my way home. It was a week night, and I had to study for that algebra test tomorrow.

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The Windows, My Eyes

In response to Haley Whitehall’s October Flash Fiction Horror Contest.

The killer took shelter in the old, abandoned Whitehall house. The police gathered in the overgrown weeds outside to discuss an entrance plan rather than simply rushing in. After all, the killer was still armed with the knife he had used to murder his partner.

The house looked haunted and decripit in the moonlight, every window long shattered and what paint remained was colorless and dull. No one had entered the house since the last owners killed themselves twelve years ago. The police fingered their guns nervously.

Caution was thrown to the wind when someone inside the house screamed, high pitched and shrill. “Crap, someone lives there?” Officer Armstong found herself running forward with the rest, bursting through the door sagging forlornly on one hinge. “Spread out.”

The police fanned out, weapons at the ready. Floorboards creaked and broken glass crunched underfoot as they searched for the killer and the source of the scream. Armstrong took the surprisngly intact stairs to the second floor, followed shortly by Harrison.

In the second room, they found the body. It wore the clothes of the killer, and even held the same knife, although the body was years old: desiccated and bony. Before Armstrong had a chance to process this, another scream came from downstairs.

She and Harrison rushed back down, to find Hamilton in the doorway of the kitchen. Just beyond was another body, similar to the first. Only this one was wearing a police uniform. The service weapon was clearly visible in the light spilling in through the delicately-paned French window.

“What the hell?” Armstrong whispered softly, crouching down to turn the body over. The nametag said it was Officer Mayer. Everyone stared at the body in mute horror.

Behind them, the front door quietly shut. No one had entered the house since the last owners killed themselves twelve years ago, and it was hungry.

#

Detectives Lansdale and McCoy met up at the car. “What do you have?” Lansdale asked his partner.

“A bunch of liars,” McCoy snorted, looking at two empty police cruisers parked in front of the Whitehall house. “The neighbors keep claiming that place has been abandoned for years. If that’s the case, who has been mowing the lawn? Who has been washing the windows?”

Lansdale nodded, looking at the house. “For that matter, if it’s abandoned, who is that little girl waving at us from the second story? I think she wants to tell us something. Let’s go inside.”

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The Creature Over the Bed

Billy tried to ignore it for as long as he could. The shuffling, the breathing. It was the Creature, he was sure of it. The Creature over the Bed. He had heard it every night for going on three weeks. Always the same. The night would start off well enough, sometimes he was even able to grab a little sleep. But then it would start. There would be a stomping sound, then a loud groaning creak. Harsh whispers he couldn’t quite make out would issue from thin air. Finally, the shuffling and the breathing. The horrid, horrible, ghastly breathing.

Billy was too old to believe in monsters, or so he told himself night after night. And  yet he would lie there, wide awake with is eyes screwed shut. Maybe if he didn’t look over the edge of the bed, then the Creature couldn’t get him. This was his only solace, the only hope he had to cling to during those long, lonely nights.

There was tangible proof, also. Sometimes when Billy woke up in the morning, things would be moved around. Sometimes it was an old pair of shoes, or sometimes it was an old, splintery Louisville Slugger, but things would not be where they were left the night before.

Billy tried speaking to Sioned about it once, but she was too busy with the laundry. “Oi, lad, these clothes’ll nay wash themselves!” she teased him, and he never spoke with her about it again.

He tried talking to Angus about the issue. He found Angus at breakfast, eating his usual bowl of honey-laced porridge, and his mouth was full and somewhat sticky, so he could do naught but shrug helplessly. He tried to talk to Angus again later, but found him busy with his tools, too intent on resoling an old boot to be of much help.

Billy thought about trying to talk to Old Man Jake, but if he had to be honest with himself, Billy would admit that Old Man Jake scared him almost as much as the Creature did. So there would be no help from that angle.

In the end, he talked about it with Alice, as usual. She was his closest confidant, despite being only a girl. She was the only one in the house who had time for him. When he asked her about it, she smiled shyly and told him she had all the time in the world for him. So he told her about the Creature and his restless nights and the horrible heavy breathing.

Alice listened closely, toying with the hem of her white nightshirt. As he finished his tale, she thought for a moment and then whispered, “You must confront it. It is the only way you’ll ever be safe. Bring a flashlight, and just… confront it.”

Billy struggled with this advice for a couple of days before snapping. He brought the flashlight, and lay there, waiting. Once he heard the voices and then the shuffling, Billy leapt out and shone his light at the Creature.

“Mo-om!” the Creature yelled, “Come cuick! The Thing Under the Bed has a flashlight!!!!”

In response to my own Flash Fiction challenge, Sunday in the park with Freddie. Come on folks, let’s see what you have.

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The Venice Accord

The meeting was to take place on the Boardwalk in Venice. We came from miles around, each making our way through the darkened streets lit by the occasional fire that hadn’t gone out yet.

From as far away as Santa Monica, Culver City, and Marina Del Rey we came. One family, a yuppie couple and their daughter, traveled all the way from Cheviot Hills, picking their way along Palms. We walked mostly in silence, each of us absorbed in his or her own thoughts on the subject we knew would be discussed at the meeting. It was the most pressing question of our time, and it deserved careful consideration. This was not a thing to be decided lightly.

I nodded to an engineer from Symantec, still wearing his name badge. He nodded back, but we were soon separated by the flow of other walkers. Ever since the Outbreak, it has been too dangerous to drive cars. With no street lights, you never knew what you were going to run into.

The press of bodies grew deeper and deeper as we turned onto Market Street. The meeting place was at the very end, near the skate park. As I tried to find a decent place to stand where I could see the concrete bench the speaker would use as a make-shift stage, a bikini-clad girl in roller skates bumped into me. She shot me an apologetic smile, glancing down at her skates. Clearly, they would be a problem for her now, but what could she do? We all had problems. I, myself, had left early even though I had only been a couple of miles away when the call went out for the meeting. I knew that my shattered fibula would slow me down, and I was not wrong about that. I arrived towards the back of the pack, only a few minutes before the speaker began.

I used the time to scan the crowd. It was a grim sight. There were very few in perfect health. One of the first victims of the Outbreak was, logically enough, health care. To my left was a woman in a waitress outfit with a Coco’s badge, sporting what looked to my untrained eye like a particularly nasty head wound. On my right was a man in a business suit, holding his daughter who was clearly missing her left leg below the knee. In front of me, two teen aged girls stood. One was helping the other to stand, as her friend had a clearly and badly broken ankle. No one spoke, but the groans of pain from the injured masses threatened to drown out the crash-boom of the waves coming in just yards away.

Finally it was time, and the speaker shuffled up onto the bench. He had to be helped up by a couple of other guys, and he swayed for a moment as he took his place. I recognized him. He had been a local politician before the Outbreak. Somewhere along the lines he had lost his suit coat, although he still had his tie. His white shirt front was dark with blood, and from the way he held his hand to his stomach, I guessed that he had been stabbed there.

As he stood, looking out at us, the crowd gradually fell silent. He took his time, judging the moment to perfection as we all gazed up at him, waiting. Wisely, I felt, he skipped any speeches or preliminaries. We all knew why we were here, what the issue at hand was. For what was probably the first time in his life, he chose to forgo the self-aggrandizement of public speaking and instead get right to the heart of the matter. He called for a vote instantly.

“Braains?” he asked.

As one, seven thousand voices replied in unanimous consent, “Braaaaaaaaiiinnssssss!”

And so it was decided.

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October Flash Fiction Challenge – Sunday in the Park with Freddie

Well, here it is. Octobrrrr already. As I look out my window, it’s sunny and about 85.

Again, I didn’t -quite- make my quota of posting every day, although I blame the novels for some of that. I get into a groove, and just don’t want to stop. In an effort to combat this, I have joined the Post-A-Day 2011 challenge (better late than never, right?) and will be participating in the NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month in November.

October is traditionally the month where thoughts turn to goblins and ghouls, witches and warlocks, vampires and very full bags of candy. Already, there have been a couple of writing challenges involving horror of some sort or other, and I have participated in a couple. I also just finished Starlight on the Water, a sci-fi horror story in the vein of of my favorite horror author ever. Read it and see if you can tell of whom I speak.

Find your horror here:

Starlight on the Water

The Eyes of the Cat

A Catchy Tune

The Windows, My Eyes

HOWEVER! I think that there will be plenty of true horror-themed challenges this month, so I’m going to do something different.

The There By Candlelight October Flash Fiction Challenge for this month is entitled Sunday in the Park with Freddie (or Jason, or Michael, or whatever horror character you prefer).

The theme is to take a horror story, and invert it. Give it a happy ending. Or maybe it’s not really that scary at all. Think Jack Skellington. Think The Sisters Three enjoying afternoon tea. Think Monsters, Inc. Give me horror tropes, but not a horror ending.

Theme: Inverted Horror Tropes/Story

Length: Around 500-ish words. A little over is okay, but try to keep it around there. After all, it is actually harder to write small than big.

How to Participate: Write it on your own blog and post the link here. If you don’t have your own blog, post it in the Comments section (but really REALLY please don’t go much over 500 if you do that).

What Do I Get? Everyone who participates will get a genuine replica TBC noprize of your choice.

Deadline: October 31, 2011, midnight PST (or, you know, whenever you feel like it. I’m pretty relaxed about the cut-off date here). Noprize winners will be announced on November 1st.

So get those fingers a-typing, my fiendish friends, and show me just how scary you can’t be.

My own entries: The Creature Over the Bed and (Week) Night of the Living Dead.

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