flash fiction

Fearful Fathoms: Tales of Aquatic Horror

FF How Deep Does Your Fear Go

If you missed it on Facebook, here it is again: Exciting news! My short story Crude Lake was accepted into Fearful Fathoms: Collected Tales of Aquatic Terror. This anthology is scheduled to be published in the summer of 2017 by Scarlet Galleon Publications. I’m so excited for this anthology and to work with Mark Parker, Publisher & Managing Editor at Scarlet Galleon Publications. Here’s a portion of the acceptance letter that made a dream come true.Crude Lake

“Scarlet Galleon Publications thanks you for your submission to FEARFUL FATHOMS: Collected Tales of Aquatic Terror. We enjoyed reading your submission and truly appreciate you sharing it with us. We are writing to let you know that your submission “Crude Lake” has been selected for inclusion in the final anthology. It is an honor and pleasure to have you on board!”

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.

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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!”

Romancing the Words: The Outlining Pantser

Book-And-Love-Photos-1600x1026The romance of being a pantser is alluring. The lustful sense in the writer’s mind to pantser is one that draws us to sit down and start writing. Go where the imagination goes. Throw caution to the wind! As adventurous and sexy as this sounds I’m here to tell you something Dr. Ruth once told my generation: have protection! That protection doesn’t come in the form of a pill or latex sleeve, but in the form of an outline.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of one over the other. We all have our own method, and choose what works best; it’s a personal choice. I’m sure all of us, outliner or not, have at one point or another found ourselves with a story-spark that requires some panster power to get it down. We sit. We write. We find ourselves 500 words along and the story keeps coming, and it feels like a release of imaginative tension. When you’re done, you might light a smoke, have a glass of wine or just catch your breath from the best write ever. But depending on the depth of your piece, the size of it (does size matter?) you may find yourself with a story that’s thundering with loose ends. That’s when wearing an outliner’s rain coat will protect you, but if you feel comfortable in the storm then pantser away.storms

You’re probably wondering what method I use when I write. I have to admit, I love to be a pantser but I’ve found a good outline helps to keep my wild-side in check, so I enlist both methods. Here’s how I do it: Pantser that story-spark. Sweat and moan that idea into the best story synopsis you ever wrote – best write ever! Then take that synopsis and whip it with an outline. Now you’re ready to spend some quality time romancing your words. Love your story, and you’ll see the prose mature with depth and meaningful arc. Now for the fun. Between the points of your outline get naked and pantser between the sheets, of paper. That’s right, connect the dots of your outline points by drafting your story in panster mode. I get the best of both worlds as an outlining panster.

I find outlining helps nurture a good working relationship with my pantser self. Ultimately each of us chooses our own path, we learn by doing, and through this we discover our own rhythmic method to writing.

What method do you prefer? How do you do it? Do you stick with one method over the other or blend?

This story scares people: Flash Fiction “Danny” Published to Quick Brown Fox Blog

t1larg_terror_tsDo you believe in ghosts?

I’m very excited to announce that my flash-fiction piece “Danny” was published on the Quick Brown Fox Blog today. Click here to read a creepy piece of paranormal fiction that seems to be scaring people.

Let me know what you think of the piece by commenting on the blog. Thanks for reading.

Darryl Foster

Nano Fiction: Am I Old?

The Ontario Writers Conference hosts a monthly blog called Story Starters. It’s 100 words or less and is reflective of the posted artwork. I label 300 words or less as Nano Fiction. Here’s my story “Am I Old?” as inspired by Joe Cebek’s posted artwork.

Fan PlantAm I Old?

By Darryl Foster

Semi-naked bodies frolic in the waves. The smell of coconut and rum fills me. This youthful allure brings tears. Their hard bodies flit along the shoreline, supple, college aged, and I—old as the sand beneath me. My eyes dash from the youth. In a dune to my right ferns rustle, blown by a salty breeze, and their end-of-day silhouettes resemble plant fossils engrained in bedrock. I’m that fossil, but am I old? I glance to the fit bodies playing on the beach. I smile. No, I’m not that fossil, not on the inside. Youth keeps this old heart alive.

Nano Fiction: Prisoner

The Ontario Writers Conference hosts a monthly blog called Story Starters. It’s 100 words or less and is reflective of the posted artwork. I label 300 words or less as Nano Fiction. Here’s my story “Prisoner” as inspired by Joanna Malcolm’s posted artwork.TwoPointsofViewL

Prisoner

By Darryl Foster

The scent of brine and the essence of freedom sail in through my window. I love to watch the sea, listen to the crash of waves and pretend to feel sand between my toes, but I will not venture out there. The burden in my soul is the weight of my own ship’s anchor, a fear that I carry and can not control. It keeps me here in this tortuous mind, a prisoner, a function of dysfunction, and although I feel my spirit is locked away, it’s my ghost that yearns for freedom beyond this body, my prison without walls.

Nano Fiction: Shattered

The Ontario Writers Conference hosts a monthly blog called Story Starters. It’s 100 words or less and is reflective of the posted artwork. I label 300 words or less as Nano Fiction. Here’s my story “Shattered” as inspired by Christine Kim’s posted artwork.christinekim_reckless_mixedmedia_5x7_2014_1

Shattered

by Darryl Foster

Our homes, our lives: shattered. The earth doesn’t discriminate. The shaking, the crumbling of walls, the crushing weight of rock. Many died. The ruins of our village poured over us like a great wave of despair. The young and strong knocked to their knees. The elders, the ones who’d built the foundations before us, didn’t see ruin like my generation. Hopeless. But to the old, they who’d seen wars and the ravages of time, they saw something different: opportunity. And like a sapling springing up between rocks, its roots stretching for water and nutrients, we began to build again.