Nano Fiction

I Need Your Vote: Red Silk by Darryl Foster is live in the Writing Arena

Red SilkI’m excited to announce: Red Silk by Darryl Foster has been unleashed in the Writing Arena and spins a web of horror. This competition started with an application 9 months ago. The story prompt from the Writers Arena arrived August 24, 2015 and required that I write a short story of max 4000 words in 10 days. My writing prompt was bugs, lots of them.

Please head to www.thewritersarena.comwhere my short story Red Silk is live online all week and up against author Tony Southcotte’s short story in a battle of the bugs. For those who don’t know: this competition is like Iron Chef, but for writers. It’s not a food-fight, but a write-fight. I have no idea what Tony has written bug-wise or genre-wise, but I chose a classic skittering horror, and yes they look just like the picture. So please be brave and visit www.thewritersarena.com tomorrow, Battle #52/Current Battle. Read both bug stories and vote for the story you like the most. Thanks everyone.

Horror Bite Challenge #20

350 words inspired by the photo above.

350 words inspired by this strange photo.

The Replacements

by Darryl Foster

Lydia Moss had lost everything in a house blaze. She was 35, disfigured by the fire and haunted by the dying screams of her family. Her mind drifted on morphine, prescribed for her excruciating epidermal pain, and her thoughts meandered between senseless ideas of the living and the dead. She missed her family, and home, but she had plans to replace both.

Firstly, insurance money helped Lydia move into a new house. A neighbour dropped by, and he cringed at her hideousness: patchy hair, partial nose, mottled webs of skin grafts. He offered only hearsay during his short visit. He said her home was built over a landfill site where mafia victims begged for their lives before execution. She didn’t need to know that and shooed him away.

The next night Lydia enacted her final plan, and at the kitchen table she created dolls; effigies of her dead family: husband, four kids and granddad. Tomorrow she’d stake them in the garden for a pretend reunion. By four in the morning Lydia had almost completed the dolls when the front door slammed. Clatter tore through the house. The kitchen cupboards banged and something scratched and clawed beneath the floorboards.

Then silence.

Lydia believed it was a sign. Her family had come to her. She picked up the unfinished doll of her four year old daughter Alison and finished her work before bed.

Lydia slept until noon. After she woke she staked the dolls in the garden for the reunion. Alison was the last to be staked in this family of scarecrows. But first, Lydia had to braid her daughter’s straw hair. “There my love, all done.”

“I love you Mommy.”

Lydia’s heart cramped with fear, and she tossed the talking effigy to the grass.

The other dolls flexed on their stakes and turned their button eyes on her.

“Please help.”

“Don’t kill me.”

“I don’t want to die.”

These pleas were not her family, they belonged to the murdered. Lydia’s mind cracked and bled a sick revelation: if she couldn’t have her family then these poor souls, these replacements, would do.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Click here to visit the Horror Bite Challenge website and check out more linked stories.

Horror Bite Challenge #17:

Flash Fiction of 349 words inspired by the image above.

Bait

By Darryl Foster

Earl McTavish was a farmer: early to rise, church on Sundays, a man of denim and plaid. At the edge of his inherited farmland he’d found his missing cow—a carcass of holes, reeking like the bottom of a carnival garbage bin. Earl retched. He’d heard of alien cattle mutilations, but he didn’t believe in them. He believed in poachers. A bitterness shivered through Earl as he remembered his granddad, found dead in this field a year ago. Foul play they had said, and likely a poacher. Earl left the remains and walked home. Tonight he’d bait this field with a cow and trap the poacher.

~

Midnight, and Earl huddled near a silo with his rifle and retriever, Dawson. An hour had passed since he had sent a cow into the dark field.

Dawson’s ears perked.

“What is it boy?”

Dawson growled, sprang forward and charged into the field. The dog’s barking faded with distance then died with a suffering yelp.

“Jesus Christ!” Earl stood alert, rifle ready, and the shadowy figure of a man manifested, embossed against the blackness of the field beyond.

“A man who stinks of church shouldn’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”

“Where’s my dog, poacher?” Earl accused and aimed.

“In pieces.”

“You son-of-a-bitch.” Earl fired. The man’s eye sockets burned with tendrils of flame, and the bullet became molten and dribbled to the ground. Earl’s heart swelled with fear.

“What the hell are you?”

“Your granddad asked the same question before he died. It’s simple, I’m a hunter, and you’re a fool for believing I wanted your cattle. The dead cows were bait to lure you out into the night, my hunting ground. Your grandfather fell for it too. There’s no poacher, only hunger.”

The leathery beat of a thousand wings filled the night and bats descended on Earl. He tossed the rifle and swatted with his hands, but the mouths of many were unstoppable, and tore chunks. Earl screamed and a bat flapped into his mouth, and chewed his tongue. He gargled blood as the man joined the kill with ivory fangs.

Crawlers by Darryl Foster

The prompt: fireworks in a wheelbarrow.

Horror Bite Challenge #16: write a piece of nano-fiction (200-350 words) inspired by an image supplied by Laura Jamez on the Office Mango blog. Here’s the image and my story:

Crawlers

by Darryl Foster

Hide-and-seek, and my daughter Jamie was nowhere to be found in the house. I walked into the kitchen, called her, and my eyes shot wide. A guttural fear surged. “No…no…no!” The patio door which lead to the garden was unlatched. She’d known about the threat of the Crawlers, and I never imagined our most guarded house-rule being broken: never go outside at night.

Day was our time, and the night belonged to the Crawlers—but tell that to a five year old, who can open the door on their own. They simply don’t understand the lurking danger.

I opened the patio door and peered into the garden. The night was cold and the darkness seemed both alive and bottomless. I called for Jamie. No answer—right, we were playing hide-and-seek—and now the clock was ticking. The Crawlers would latch onto her scent and gather.

I shut the patio door and sprang from the kitchen. I careened through the house, opened a door and entered the garage. I had never used the wheelbarrow trick—taught to save wandering children at night—but I was prepared: a wheelbarrow, a lighter and fireworks. A Burning Schoolhouse would keep the Crawlers away while I searched for Jamie.

I opened the garage’s back door and lit the Schoolhouse. The firework sparked and hissed. Light radiated, sulfur clouds billowed, and I pushed the wheelbarrow into the middle of the garden. Beyond the boundary of my protective light-dome: a dark curtain studded with the diamond glints of many eyes.

“Daddy!” Jamie’s cry seemed muffled in my ears.

Crack!

“Jamie!”

No reply, just the wet smacking of many mouths in the dark beyond. A suffocating shock dropped me to my knees. Tears flowed. “I love you Jamie!” If she was alive, I hoped she’d heard.

The Schoolhouse fizzled. Dark.

Sour breath, and sharp twig like fingers crept over my clothes. Rails of teeth clamped the meaty parts of my appendages. I shrieked as my limbs were pulled, and in the kitchen window I saw Jamie inside. I barely heard her scream through the glass, “Daddy!”