13 Days of Samhain – A Horror / Halloween Writing Prompt Challenge

I spent a little while yesterday going through my draft folder for this blog and came across a mini horror / Halloween challenge I’d started planning a few years ago.  I guess I must have run out of time to post it up on the blog, and then subsequently forgot all about it.  No surprise there! 😉

Anyway, it only needed a little bit of tinkering with, and as there is still time to post it this year, I thought why not share it and if folk want to use the prompts, then great!

There are no rules for this challenge.  Write whatever you wish, as long as it is inspired by that day’s prompt.  Here’s a little graphic / badge for anyone who wants it:

And here are the 13 prompts, one for the 13 days leading up to Halloween, with day 13 falling on the 31st:

I’m thinking of joining in myself and maybe writing a series of haiku or tanka responses for the prompts…we shall see.

If anyone does join in, I wish you lots of scribbling Halloween fun!

Her Reflection

I see her reflection

Alongside mine

In a bowl of water, a looking-glass, a dirty puddle

Sometimes she looks like me

Others not

Sometimes she smiles sweetly

When she isn’t terrifying me

With her intense, unwavering glare

She’s always been with me

I know that

While she’s on the other side

Of the partition

I’m safe

But soon she will be here…

What then?


Written for: Weekend Writing Prompt #142 – Looking-glass | Word count: 64

Excavating the Archives: The Hanging Tree

tree

Every night at midnight, the hanging tree creaked as if a very large weight attached to a rope had just been dropped from one of its thick, sturdy branches.  Then a shadow would descend.  Legend said anyone touched by it would be found hanging from the tree when the sun rose.


A spooky short read from September 2014, https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/the-hanging-tree/

Hungry Ghosts

I was going through one of the old short story folders on my computer yesterday, when I came across this spooky, horror one.  Written a few years ago for a friend who had an interest in such things, I thought it would be perfect for Sindy’s Spooky Writing Challenge – my favourite writing challenge of the year!  It’s not my best piece of writing, but I hope you’ll agree, you can see how much my writing has developed over the last few years.


Night time

Hungry Ghosts

To be the son of an impious man was shameful.  My father was greedy, coveting riches ceaselessly.  We lived in a palace full of treasures but he always wanted more.

However, nothing was harder to bear than his lack of care and respect for the dead.  I often found myself wondering if our home – my father in particular – was cursed.  His insatiable desire to possess everything he saw was bad enough, but he despised waste.  It would have been a noble quality in any but him.

I would place offerings of food and drink out for the spirits of our ancestors during Ghost Month, when spirits left Diyu, the lower realm, and on Ghost Day, when the spirits came to visit the living.  I didn’t want to anger my ancestors, and I couldn’t bear the thought that they might go hungry.

But my father didn’t believe in any of it.  He would not publicly say this, of course; to do so, would probably bring ruin upon our home.  Nonetheless, I often noticed that once I put out the offerings, he would take them back, returning them to the kitchen under the cover of darkness, when the thought no one saw.

The shame!

I had observed him doing this the previous two nights, and today was Ghost Day

I was standing on the edge of the river with others from the town, watching the paper lanterns float away on the current.  Everyone present was hoping that the light from the lanterns would guide any wandering spirits away from this place so they could cause no mischief.  The full moon above glowed brilliantly, its golden-silver orb reflected in the water. And silently I wondered if the ghosts of our ancestors would go hungry tonight.

And what they would do in return.

When I returned home to bed I couldn’t sleep.  Finally, when I couldn’t stand tossing and turning anymore, I got up, careful not to wake my sleeping wife, who, like the rest of the household and town, was oblivious to my father’s insulting attitude towards the ancestors.  I decided to go for a little walk around the palace, to see if that would still my unquiet mind.

And that’s when I saw it, a dark shadow climbing over the roof of one of the outer buildings.  Even in the light of the full moon I couldn’t make it out clearly.  I wasn’t even completely sure of what I had seen.  However, fearing attack, I decided to investigate.  My father was an important, powerful man and this would not have been the first time an attempt had been made on his life.  I had my dagger at my side and was capable of using it to deadly effect, if it was indeed an assassin.

My fear proved true, for whoever it was ran silently passed the treasury.  Many valuable items were displayed all around the palace but these were ignored too.

It could only be an assassin.

When they reached my father’s chamber, they opened the door and slipped inside.  A moment later, I did the same.  My plan was to take them unaware, and immobilise them quickly before any damage could be done.  If I sounded the alarm, not only might they kill my father, but themselves also.  I needed to determine who had hired them and why.

Inside the room, all was in darkness.  Slowly I crept along to where my father slept.  I held the advantage in the dark, knowing the layout of the room; the assassin would have to let their eyes adjust to the dimness, or so I hoped.

Noiselessly, I released my dagger from my belt, and turned the corner into my father’s sleeping quarters.  That’s when I paused.

The shadow was hovering over my father, who was gasping for breath, and yet I couldn’t see what the assassin was doing.  There were no hands around my father’s throat.  No knife was protruding from his chest.

‘Stop!’ I called out.  Two blood red eyes shone at me out of the darkness as the culprit looked up.  And that’s when I realised this was no assassin at all.

In shock, I dropped my dagger, it’s clanging on the floor was almost deafening in the silence.

I tried to move but something, some otherworldly power, held me fast to where I was.  I tried to call out for help, but again, something had made me mute.

I knew what was happening…and what was going to happen.  I knew what hungry ghosts did to satiate their craving.  And when my father exhaled his last breath, he became the meal he was so unwilling to offer our ancestors.

When it was done, the shadow left the bloody remains on the bed and approached me.  I thought my heart would burst out from my chest in fear.

‘You are honourable,’ it whispered to me.  ‘You are safe from the spirit of your ancestors.  Continue as you have always done.  Respect them.  Honour them.  Placate them.’

‘What of my father?’ I asked, the power of speech now returned to me.

‘His greed in life will plague him in death.’

I understood what that meant.

My father was a hungry ghost too now.

Soulless, Part 2

danse-macabre-by-michael-wolgemut-picture-credit-wikipedia

Danse Macabre by Michael Wolgemut (picture credit: wikipedia)

[To read Part 1, click here]

‘The change will soon be upon you.’

Pater noster—

‘There’s no point praying to your God now.  He no longer wants you.  You’re soulless, destined to walk upon the earth or burn in the fires of hell. I know which I choose.’

‘No!’

‘Yes.  You’re about to be reborn.’


This was written for Day 25 of “A Month of Mini Writing Challenges“.  See this page here for more details and a list of prompts.

Soulless

danse-macabre-by-michael-wolgemut-picture-credit-wikipedia

Danse Macabre by Michael Wolgemut (picture credit: wikipedia)

From the Chronicles of Father Thomas de Bedford…

Life didn’t end with death, I quickly realised.  Or rather, the death I had come to expect that would, at the very least, lead me to purgatory.  Or, if the angels, saints and God himself thought me worthy, thought what I had dedicated my life to worthy, then perhaps sooner rather than later, I would get to heaven.

But even then, at the end of it all, I should have been more aware, more cautious…My eyes should not have been looking heavenward…I should have been paying attention.  Then maybe things would have been different…

The world about me was dark but I could distinctly remember the sword thrust I failed to dodge which caught me in the side.  After that, I lost the ability to fight back.  It was a fatal wound, rendering me unable to defend myself.  Falling on to the stone floor of the small chapel, I knew the monster was close and creeping ever closer as my blood pooled beneath me.

I must have lost consciousness, for the next thing I knew, there was sharp pain in my neck and I was screaming.  Something within me was ripped out with sudden force from my chest.  I thought the thing had pulled out my heart.  I hoped, I prayed, he had pulled out my heart.

Only he hadn’t.  He had done something far worse.  He had made me like him.

A mocking laughter echoed around the room.  I had lost my soul.  I was never going to heaven.

And the nightmare was only just beginning…


This was written for Day 24 of “A Month of Mini Writing Challenges“.  See this page here for more details and a list of prompts.

The Sirens Call Issue 25 – Women In Horror Month

I feel honoured to have a story appear in this year’s Women In Horror Month issue of The Sirens Call, which is available to read for free now.  This issue is packed full of short stories, poetry and flash fiction, all written by women, and all set around the theme of Things That Go Bump In The Night.  I’ve not had a chance to read it all yet, but the photography that features in this issue is amazing.

My short story, Family Secrets, tells of the strange things that go on in one young woman’s house every month, only she is not allowed to be told what they are.  However, when the truth materialises, will she be happy to be let in on the secret or will she realise that sometimes it is better to remain in the dark?

If you enjoy horror / dark fiction, The Sirens Call is definitely something you want to read if you haven’t read it before.

If you’ve a moment to spare and decide to have a read of Family Secrets, please let me know what you think.  I am always grateful to receive praise feedback 😉