A couple of weeks ago, we asked you to write a folklore inspired horror story based on the photo below (113 words max). Now, on this spookiest of nights, we are happy to announce the winning entry! We hope this will be the first of many more flash fiction Halloween contests to come. And the winner is…
Congratulations to Lucy Zhang for her enchanting and poetic micro-flash tale, ‘Retribution‘.
An ageless girl knows only of bare skin underneath her arms, smooth like tapioca pearls soaking in sugar, her toothpick legs and razor-blade hips like she’s all balsa wood and glue, edges and splinters, her flushed cheeks from flattery. This is the only love she knows.
She stands at the edge of a dark abyss roped off with FORBIDDEN signs and manila.
She pulls the backpack off her shoulders and in dying flickers of the stars is the white of an eye. She throws it in the abyss. Then she dumps out the remaining contents–an ear, nose, head, hair. Maybe this too, is a sort of love one imparts another in farewell.
Thank you Lucy for sharing this story with us. We will be in touch in the coming days regarding your prize.
BUT that’s not all! We had soooo many entries this year, that we thought we should publish a few more that rocked our coffin. Thank you again to all the authors who took the time to send in their work. Even if you are not featured here, it was honestly a real pleasure to read your stories.
A teaspoon of guilt is always there, a sip of love, or hate, a powerful emotional bond, is probably haunting when the end comes, and people are after the loved ones, when separated, even by death, but shadows are scary, even the loved ones, she thinks, as she is running, running away, she’s in a loft now, she doesn’t like big houses, for there are more places for ghosts to hide and then appear, a cup of terror is inevitable and necessary, and so she hides, under the table, behind the curtains, for humans cannot handle ghosts; they’re too demanding, when they appear, out of the blue, into the fog, crying for love.
– What Ghost Stories are Made of, Mileva Anastasiadou.
The last time I saw Hazel, she was standing on the viewing platform overlooking the canyon; standing all alone, her eyes on the view, her mouth half open as if to say something. I don’t think she noticed me.
They say she fell. They say she plummeted straight down to the rocky floor below, her body lost among the boulders.
She did fall, but that’s the only part of it they got right. I never told anyone the final thing I saw; that I watched Hazel fall upwards. Up into the clear blue sky. Up and up forever, until she vanished completely.
As if she had never existed at all.
– Falling Upwards, Georgia Cook.
You’re probably wondering: Why?
I can’t tell you that.
My name is Emerald van Mort. That’s an alias.
And I came here to KILL.
It wasn’t my idea. I thought I’d have a quiet life.
But as soon as I saw this tiny girl with wild hair in the Pink Dust mountain region, I thought: Ugh, fine. Fine! I’ll kill whoever you want me to kill just don’t hurt that tiny child.
They said: Why?
I can’t tell you that.
I’m sorry, I’m not trying to confuse things but I’m undercover because of the threat they made to kill LeeAnne Caliban. That’s the tiny child you’re looking at.
– A Mission… to Kill, Rebecca Katherine Hirsch.
The new body wasn’t exactly as he’d been promised. Female this time. Brunette, not blond. Cuts from the capture, sure to leave scars. More reminders of the cost.
He squinted into the morning fog and the long walk home from the cabin. The first step down the hillside in a fresh shape was always the most delightful feeling, despite the nagging tug at his back.
But this was the way; he knew by now. A bit of the soul always remained in spite, no matter how clean the Wrenching took.
He inhaled deeply, marveling as usual, at the unfamiliar ease of youth.
He was getting good at ignoring the tug.
– Gather no Moss, The Wrenching.
It’s forbidden to venture beyond the fence. “Your life is in here,” they say. “Nothing but death out there.” No one knows what this means, but legend tells of a brave member who once tried to find out. He crossed over and entered The Unknown. Did he make it, was he killed? This too is unknown. Some like to think he found better lands, but they are too frightened to follow, frightened by what the Elders say, that trespassers are pulled into the ground and mixed with dirt. Pulled by what? They warn The Hand of Death waits at the fence. But I say there’s no hand. Only the promise of something better.
– The Hand That Waits, Foster Trecost.
Oh lord forgive me for I should not have coveted her fine dark hair and her pretty blue coat. Nor should I have tied that binding to her neck by any braid, not urged those words into her ears, nor cast her out into the blinding light and damp of daybreak. All these things I should not have done and yet I did and so I pray that you forgive me. For she is gone, and dancing from my scraping grasp is fled across the snow. Each empty footprint bears the print of four clawed toes in blood. For I am dumbed by my foolish born desires. And she is damned by her’s.
– Being recorded as the journal entry of the rector of this parish All Soul’s Eve Anno Domini 1679, E. E. Rhodes.
‘The girl’s trapped in a tower, pleading for help.’
‘It’s only a photo, on a holiday in France.’ I tell Daniel.
But he hears voices, sees her hair cascade down, tries holding onto it.
He thinks he can’t sleep until she’s rescued, so I bring him silk threads, teach him to weave.
I come home to see his fingers bleed from all the weaving, see the girl’s hair acquire strands of crimson.
In a moment of forgetfulness, he ties a knot, tightens it around his neck, hauls himself up against the window frame.
I’ve since framed the photo, hung it in my new apartment.
Rowan has taken a special liking to it.
– O Troubled Heart Trapped by a Tower of Lies, Mandira Pattnaik.