Summer of Super Short Stories 2, Week Five

Welcome to week five of our eight-week contest. Don’t forget that not only are you competing for weekly bragging rights, but also for two ULTIMATE prizes;  winners in the categories of podium wins and stories submitted will each receive a signed and doodled print copy of LCP’s latest book, The Gantean.

This week our judge is spec-fic fan Nancy Chenier, a flashdog and a tremendously talented writer. She says she likes emotional connection in the stories, but we suspect she might also appreciate brilliant word choices and mesmerizing verbs (just going by her own writing).

Below you will find a photo prompt and a line prompt. Use the picture to inspire you. The line prompt must be included somewhere in your story of 350 words or less. You can see a larger version of the picture by clicking on it. There are no content restrictions.

Submit your story or stories (up to two) in the reply section to this post no later than Saturday at 6pm PST. Please include word count and Twitter handle/email/other identifiers at the beginning of the story. Winners will be announced next Tuesday. Please see our Contest Rules for more information.


And here are your prompts!

Use this three-word phrase in any part of your story:

“this creeping fear”

Anthropomorphic Roots

Image credit: Anthropomorphic Roots by Mike DelGuadio  flickr CC 2.0
Image has not been altered from its original form.

 

54 thoughts on “Summer of Super Short Stories 2, Week Five

  1. Pingback: Summer of Super Short Stories, Week 5 | emily june street

  2. davidshakes

    Tried and Tested
    256 words
    @theshakes72
    David Shakes

    ‘That low mist still clings to the forest floor, flowing in a pattern of its own choosing, unhindered by breeze or branch. I am more than unnerved. It is too easy to imagine what ungodly creatures may lurk beneath its blanket, their slip and slither masked by the faintly luminescent fog. I am resolved to remain in this cabin until it lifts.’

    “Is that it?”
    “That’s the last entry.”
    “And you’re sure it’s dated last fall?”
    “I’ve shown you twice!”
    “I don’t understand. Those bones in the bunk are years old. The style of writing is, I dunno, it’s old too.”
    “It scares me. Let’s just keep going and call the rangers when you get a signal on your cell.”
    “Tammy, step forward.”
    “What’s wrong?”
    “Tammy just move!”
    “Mark, oh my God, Mark, it’s moving like it’s alive!”

    ‘I don’t know how long it’s been since Mark left the cabin to get help. Our rations are used up and this perpetual dusk is driving me to distraction. As I write in this borrowed journal I am all too aware that I would never speak this way. These words are not my own, this vocabulary belongs to someone else. Worse than the grey fog that seeps beneath the door now, is this creeping fear that I am a fiction trapped in a cliche.’

    ***
    A cabin in the woods? Whedon has nailed that one down.
    The Mist? King owns it.
    I crumple the paper and toss it in the bin, trapping my characters until they’re recycled once again.

    Reply
    1. Pattyann McCarthy

      What a great story, David! I love the ending, recycling your characters. Unexpected ending, and it works.

      Reply
  3. davidshakes

    Meta’d Out
    173words
    @theshakes72
    David Shakes

    This creeping fear, this slow snake of doubt, this cloying mist of dread has me wrapped and trapped and tangled. The branches of my story tree refuse to bear fruit and I refuse to bare myself before my peers unclothed without layers of fiction.
    The branches of the story tree may twist and turn, creating new patterns and textures, but all are joined to the trunk and the trunk has firm roots.
    The soil here is barren.
    For a while, I went meta, writing about bad writing brought a perverse sense of achievement, but in the early hours I knew that it was a hollow victory. Diminishing returns from a one trick pony.
    The picture prompt is beautiful but I cannot do it justice. I’ve tried twice already.
    This creeping fear, this slow snake of doubt, this cloying mist of dread has me wrapped and trapped and tangled.
    Can I write?
    I did write.
    I’ll stop writing now.
    Is this also a fiction?
    Who wrote this?
    In the picture the mist rolls on.

    Reply
    1. Pattyann McCarthy

      Very creative. The struggles of all writers, and the horrid doubts that tag along in the unconscious. Nice!

      Reply
  4. stephellis2013

    Returned

    340 words

    @el_Stevie

    Breath congealed and misted as the family emerged above ground. They clung to each other as they snaked their way through rotting roots and twisted vines, every step shedding the weight of soil that had clung to them for generations. Hope for life flared as they inhaled long-forgotten odours, felt dusk’s gentle caress. But even as they travelled, each found themselves fighting against this creeping fear that they would not be chosen. Who did Granny Bo want?

    Singing voices called to them, guiding them to the gathering, leading them to the living. They mingled unseen as the glittering fire gifted warmth and roasting meat awoke hunger.

    Maryann’s long-closed eyes caught sight of a puppy wriggling in the arms of its young owner.

    “Do you want the puppy, child?” asked Granny.

    Maryann remembered the soft body and warm breath of her own little dog. She smiled. “Yes please.”

    “Do you want to live above or below?” asked Granny.

    Maryann remembered the blue skies and the scent of jasmine. “Above,” she whispered, her eyes still on the puppy, her head swimming as the tide of her past rushed back to her.

    “Then, my child,” said Granny, “choose who you will.”

    And Maryann whirled amongst them, unrecognised even by the Bokur. She moved closer to the small girl, nearer and nearer, her eyes never off the pet in her arms. With a giggle she sank into soft flesh, young bones, her new home; all hers.

    Maryann cradled the furry bundle, felt the lick of its tongue on her face, the fragile cage of its ribs, its heart, the echo of the drums that pulsed around her. She was happy, oh so happy. She pulled the puppy closer to her. Tighter. Tighter. Felt a crack, a whimper. Someone else’s tear rolled down her cheek. Maryann laughed.

    “Time now, child,” said Granny, as the drums began to ease, sending her companion souls back into the abyss. “Time for you to go and play.”

    Maryann grinned into the darkness and ran into her new family’s arms.

    Reply
    1. Pattyann McCarthy

      Great story, Steph, great writing. I’m so sad the puppy didn’t make it. That nasty Maryann stealing that puppy’s life and the life of an innocent child, masquerading as her. I love it. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Madilyn Quinn

    The Bog
    @MadilynQuinn

    349 words

    Mist coils around Talia as she stands on the stage. The crowd shifts and mutters, cowed by her sharp stare. I stand at the back, heart hammering. I do not want to be chosen.

    “This creeping fear is upon us again,” her voice projects without any effort. “We must send someone out.” Her voice is darkly alluring and of course it makes perfect sense.

    I give the inside of my palm a pinch and my heart again thunders in my ears. I know her tricks, I know what she sends us to, but no amount of my speaking it convinces the town folk. I swallow. Her eyes scan the crowd. She looks over me twice and then her lavender lips pull into a grin.

    “Olivia, would you join me on stage?”

    Her request sends a cold fear through me and when I don’t move, eyes turn my way. I wanted to leave town before the choosing, but I knew I wouldn’t make it out there alone. Now it doesn’t matter. Both are death sentences.

    Hands grip me and I’m palmed forward. My mother’s wet face crosses my path for just a moment and her terror hikes up mine. At the base of the steps, I have to follow the crowd’s momentum and carry myself up. Talia’s a lot smaller up close and the fog swirling around her chills me. Behind her, the bog looms.

    She leans towards me, conspiringly, and grins. “I know you’ve been spreading rumors about me.”

    Before I can shake the shock, she’s straightened and is speaking again to the crowd. “Thank our sacrifice, without her we would surely perish.”

    The crowd nods and mutters thanks.

    My knees feel weak.

    Talia guides me down the back steps and towards the bog. The frogs scream and bugs chatter. The ground gets softer.

    “I hope you know this is only for the best.”

    I choke back my agreement and a sudden determination steels me. “I hope you know I’ll be back.”

    She smirks. “I do hope so. It’ll be a first.” And she pushes me into the gloom.

    Reply
  6. Pattyann McCarthy

    @PattyannMc
    WC: 350

    Ghosts of the Fog

    This creeping fear slithers under my goose bump skin, inching its way up my spine, my scalp crawling, teeth on edge, chattering, and languishing treacherously inside, stealing my breath.

    Winds howl past my ears, whistling through the dead tree’s branches, creating sounds of screeching, its twigs appearing as fingers reaching out to me. Thick oozy fog swirls around my ankles and parts lethargically as I inch my way forward one shuffle-step at a time. A woolen blanket of humidity clings to my skin, as I will my beating heart to slow its syncopated rhythms, running as a freight train through my chest. A scream lodged itself in my throat muscle, wanting to escape, but wedged between vocal chords.

    I watch the fog intently, petrified of what I don’t see, yet more terrified of seeing with eyes wide what lies underneath, ready to grab me, pull me down into its depths. Panic grasps my calves, paralyzing my legs, the will to run, intense, yet I can’t move a muscle.

    Screams reach my ears from afar, though I see no one, as I stand unaccompanied in the faded light of a shrouded moon. I raise my face toward the midnight sky hoping for more. I watch black clouds of striated claws unhurriedly cross the full yellow-orange roundness. Owls echoing in the dark of the night sound haunting, ethereal, untethered to the living.

    The clouds have moved on as I turn back to the fog below. Something is moving underneath the cloak of dense vapor. It stirs. Fear encapsulates each cell of my frozen body, my mouth open to scream, though nothing produces. My eyes lock on the moving fog, as shapes begin to rise from below. Terror holds me captive and vulnerable. Ghosts are rising from the earth, howling, surrounding me, and reaching towards my unmoving limbs.

    My mouth unhinges, vocal chords unconfined, screams emit, shrill and terrified. I find my legs; force them to move, to run. I flee towards others screaming and plow into my boyfriend. He laughs at my hysteria, I giggle. “That was the best haunted attraction – ever!”

    Reply
  7. voimaoy

    In the Zone
    @voimaoy
    345 words

    This creeping fear started when we crossed the line of wire at the border, past the guards distracted by a passenger train.  No one stopped or noticed us as we turned onto a side road.  Rydel was driving, Vanya and Tori were  asleep in the back. I watched the lights receding, our headlights on the road ahead.

    “Where are we now?”  Tori touched my shoulder.  A sudden shock of Fear.

    “Across.” I said. “We’re in the Zone.”

    “You sure? It doesn’t look so different.” Tori said.

    “See those lights back there?” I said. “That’s the border. It will get  stranger from here.”

    I told myself the Fear was part of being in the Zone, an effect of the strangeness of the place. Tori and Vanya had never been here before, they had no idea what to expect. Maybe that was an advantage. Rydel  and I had made the crossing more times than I wanted to remember, and it didn’t do any good anyway.  The rules of reality were different here. Anything could happen.

    Ahead, the towers of the reactor stood out in the glowing fields around the forest of leafless trees. Along the roadside, flowers followed us with their eyes.

    The Fear had slender fingers, brushing against my skin.  Tori’s eyes were mirrors.  Vanya woke, growling, pawing at his hair.

    Rydell stopped the car.  “We should walk from here.”

    Mist rose out of the fields, twining around the trees.  I felt an incredible lightness, an urge to run, to leap, to fly. Tori was swirling in the mist.  Vanya howled at the moon.

    Rydell said nothing. I could tell by his steady  pace he was fighting the Fear. The mist lapped at his feet like waves.  Tori flashed with the fireflies in the fields.  Vanya’s legs grew incredibly long, as he chased her through the trees.

    The waters were rising, lifting me up. I rode the crest of the wave.

    When I looked around, the others were waiting. “Welcome back,” Rydell said. He smiled, white teeth. He held out his hand, and we were gone.

    Reply
  8. asgardana

    Living Forest
    @agardana09
    350 Words

    I cannot see. I feel the cold, wet, air on my skin. The heavy taste of it chokes in my throat. I hear the rustling of the things nearby – predators, prey, maybe the wind; but I cannot see.

    The ground gives under my feet, the mud encloses me with each step. It wants to pull me into its grips, it wants to take me and suck out every bit of nutrient within my body for its nearby roots. This forest is alive, every forest is alive, and anyone who thinks otherwise is vulnerable.

    I am walking to the Tree. It is a journey we all take. If we fail we die; if we succeed, we are welcomed back as Grown. I want to be Grown, then I’ll receive a similarly Grown partner and we will be assigned a family unit and –

    My ankle curls and I reach out into the darkness to stop from falling but there is nothing to brace myself against. I hit the mud. It curls around my hands and knees. I blink away the tears and struggle against the sinking. Fear sparks and it races my thoughts, this creeping fear can take over my focus and cloud my judgment. Then, I’ll be lost.

    “The Tree is located in a straight line from here,” the Grown had told me. My direction must stay the same even as I flail against the mud.

    I lunge left, then right. Then, finally, my hand finds the root of a tree. Not the Tree but something in the darkness that I can pull against. I pull too hard, though. I flip over the root and land on my back. I am facing a different direction now. I know this, just as I know cannot distinguish which way I was before. The mud is creeping again, crawling over my neck and into my ears, up my nose. I am sinking.

    I close my eyes. I see the family plot and my very own partner and she is reaching for me. I close my eyes to see better, to see and feel and –

    Reply
    1. KM Zafari

      This is really cool. I especially like this line. “This forest is alive, every forest is alive, and anyone who thinks otherwise is vulnerable.”

      Reply
  9. Holly Geely

    Aubergine
    @hollygeely
    242 words

    Rita wouldn’t put “haunted woods” on her top ten list of places to hang out, but it wasn’t as bad as the haunted port-a-potty from a few minutes earlier. She might even enjoy the ambience, created by a mist-covered forest floor coupled with old, gnarled trees; if only those damn elephants would stop cycling.

    “They’re too heavy for the bikes. It’s painful to watch,” Rita remarked to the rattle-spider. Its name was Janet and it had a fake Australian accent.

    “Crikey!” Janet said.

    “As far as dreams go, I’ve had worse,” Rita admitted.

    Janet’s long tail buzzed and the spider legs dashed up Rita’s arm. Rita felt the sharp sting of teeth on her neck.

    The pain didn’t wake her.

    “What is this feeling?” Rita asked. “There’s this…this creeping fear inside me. It’s just a dream, why should I be scared?”

    “It isn’t a dream, mate.”

    “That’s ridiculous. What else would this be?”

    “Some kind of freaky Alice in Wonderland thing, probably,” Janet said.

    The rattle-spider’s poison pulsed through Rita’s veins. The dark purple liquid stained her skin, inside and out. She was turning into an eggplant!

    “Why is this happening?” the eggplant wailed.

    “Dunno mate, but that colour on you is aubergine-ious.”

    Rita’s scream of horror was what finally woke her from the nightmare.

    “That’s it – no more stoner movies before bed,” she decided.

    She was so relieved that she didn’t see the tip of a rattle retreating beneath her bed.

    Reply
    1. KM Zafari

      A rattlesnake/spider monster? Of course it would be from Australia! Lol This is cute and clever.

      “Dunno mate, but that colour on you is aubergine-ious.” This made me lol.

      Reply
  10. KM Zafari

    Delicious
    298 words
    @thebatinthehat

    [Warning: May be a little graphic for some readers.]

    ‘Wake up!’ I try to cry, hoping it’s a dream. ‘Wake up!’ But I am unable to speak because the first thing the creature did was take my tongue.

    Its own had long since withered away, and it wants to taste the rest of me. So now, my perfect, pink tongue rests inside the decomposing, mossy mouth of the skeletal being that is not quite human nor animal, but a thing, as it traces its claws along my skin, poking at the fleshiest parts.

    I can almost taste the decay as it moistens the remnants of its rotting lips with my tongue.

    ‘Please be a dream,’ I plead inside. I squeeze my eyes shut, but when I open them, the creature is still there.

    I can hear it sniffing me.

    The traces of a smile spread across the creature’s face, wrinkling the hollows where its eyes should be.

    “I wants to see you,” it says.

    And this fear, this creeping fear, starts at the base of my skull and electrifies my skin.

    My muted scream is guttural, primal as the creature digs its claw inside my socket and rips my eye from its orbit.

    My oculus momentarily rolls around in its new home before focusing back on me.

    My eyes meet, and the effect is surreal. At once, I can see both the creature and my own blood-covered face.

    This terrifies me because I now know that I’ll not only see my flesh as he devours it but will be able to taste myself, too.

    “I’s hungry,” it says.

    I stare at myself with curiosity, no longer sure where the creature ends and I begin. My stomach rumbles, and for a brief moment, I wonder what I’ll taste like.

    I’ll have my answer soon enough.

    Reply
  11. A V Laidlaw

    @AvLaidlaw
    346 Words

    The Things That Live There

    As autumn comes the boy’s eyes turn from green to brown. Beth smiles at Nathan even as this creeping fear spreads through her like the roots of a tree until it pierces her heart. She scoops him in her arms and cradles his head against her heartbeat. He squirms. He’s old enough now that he doesn’t want to be held by his mother. She smooths down his wild hair and kisses his forehead. He balls his hands and pushes against her but he screws up his eyes and laughs.

    “Time for bed.”

    He stomps across the floorboards. Halfway across he looks back over his shoulder to make sure she’s watching. His hair sticks up again. “Will you tell me a story?”

    “Of course but I must lock up first.”

    Outside the mists roll along the valley and the trees tangle brutal and naked at the edge of the field, the sun already lost in the shadows of their branches. She remembers the spring green and sunlight all those years ago when she hunted for adventure and found Nathan’s father there, handsome and scented of the rich earth, a laugh as solid as oakwood and anemones flowering in his footsteps.

    Beth shuts the door, locks it with the iron key and drops the metal bar down. She walks through the house, concentrating on every movement of her body to squeeze the fear tight inside, and fastens the shutters across the windows. Each time she looks the trees are nearer, their roots rising from the earth like claws dragging them towards the house. The woods come no matter how far they run. The trunks creak and she hears the whisper, the same whisper she heard in the leaves when she fled. I will come for my son.

    Nathan already lies in bed, the sheets ruffled over his chest, so fragile and human.

    “What story do you want to hear?” She says. “One about knights? Or dragons?”

    He shakes his head. His eyes are deeper brown in the candlelight. “One about the woods. And the things that live there.”

    Reply
  12. Ophelia Leong

    @OpheliaLeong
    321 words

    My Time Has Come

    Algae has grown over my teeth and nails, slimy vibrant green next to my graying skin. My bog is dwindling away, the water sucked up by the roots of the great trees that crowd the forest. Your time is done, they chatter. Jenny Greenteeth will be heard of no more, they tease.
    They are right. I can no longer deny this creeping fear. The time of the Fae is ending, and the trees and plants who were here long before us are spreading everywhere.
    My limbs have slimmed down and my bones have narrowed, like the those of a fish. Iridescent scales dot my body, the patches growing larger everyday. In the murky underwater sunlight, I now shimmer as I swim. The water is claiming me. Long strands of my hair have fallen out and are curled up in the bottom of my bog, dark green against the yellow seaweed and old white bones.
    My fish nuzzle against me, their bodies streaks of silver in the water. They are pleased with my changes. Soon I will become one of them, and will join their fleet of thoughtless gentle creatures. Once my claws sharpened themselves against bone and limbs. Once my teeth tore through flesh and muscle. I am changing and will no longer be the predator, but the prey.
    Now, the branches of the trees above flail in the wind as I moan. No one will help me. The changes are coming fast now. My teeth and nails have fallen out and litter the bottom of my bog. I can feel my bones shrinking in on themselves. Memories and thoughts move erratically through my head one last time as I frantically try to climb onto the ground. I have no fingers anymore, and my fins are too smooth. I am slipping away, back into the midnight embrace of the water.
    I look up one last time. The moon is dark tonight.

    Reply
    1. KM Zafari

      “My teeth and nails have fallen out and litter the bottom of my bog.” Love this line. This story is beautiful and creepy at the same time.

      Reply
  13. Tim Stevenson

    “Mother’s Milk”
    @tallfiction
    255 Words

    The beauty director stared out at the lush gardens and waited for her colleagues to get to the point.
    “Do you think we’ve gone too far, Jean?” the head of the science division asked. “Is this the line we shouldn’t have crossed?”
    Jean turned back and rubbed her hands, the dry skin whispering under her hermetic gloves. “What price beauty?” she asked, and chuckled. “No matter what we charge they are willing to pay.”
    In the vase on her desk new roses were already drooping.
    “We are the cure for this creeping fear called age, a salve against the inevitable, yes?”
    “Yes,” said the sales director. “But this? Surely this is too much?”
    “Why?” Jean shouted. “All our marketing is around plant extracts, herbs, nature. Why is this so different?”
    The three women gathered around the display case. Within, a shape stirred amongst the tendrils of green, skin as smooth as silver birch, as vital as spring, a child made of all that they had been and everything they could add. It was their science made flesh. Their flesh made young.
    Under the ultraviolet the lichen hair glowed, the pale fingers twisted and spread, questing for the light, and, when the eyes opened, they were sad and as green as the still bayou, as old as the world, as delicate as an opening flower, not plant, not human, neither nature or science.
    The sales director reached a hand forward to comfort their sleeping child, and never noticed the thorns take hold and begin to drink.

    Reply
    1. KM Zafari

      “…when the eyes opened, they were sad and as green as the still bayou, as old as the world, as delicate as an opening flower…” Love this. Gorgeous writing.

      Reply
  14. Mark A. King

    The Canopy

    @making_fiction

    350 words

    This Creeping Fear. This Fear Creeping.

    Creeping.

    Fear.

    It’s what I once thought of as approach the Petrified Forest, bobbing on the cinereal tides, the blackened roots trying to ensnare me in their gnarled grasp.

    After I lost my parents, I sailed these waterlogged lands. My loss as empty as the charcoal horizon, as deep as the perpetual pools of darkness on which I sailed. I would look downwards, for I knew that’s where they were. I would see the shadows. The murk. The shapes that symbolised the end from which we cannot escape.

    Fear was something that was not immediate. It stalked in the shadows. It hunted in the periphery of life—a hunter with time on his hands. It was the void that was immediate and all consuming. The lack of signals. The emptiness of nothing.

    Shortly after Callum was born, I watched the water rats make their homes in the arterial networks of the roots.

    The emptiness started to ease, but the darkness still crept. It crept in my dreams, in my hopes, in my fears for my child.

    I learned to watch the squirrels on the behemoth trunks. Scurrying in and out of the darkness.

    I watched my boy laugh at the world and play with the shadows—for they were just things born from light.

    And now as Cal sits in my boat, he points at the canopy.

    “Dad,” he says, as he tugs my shirt and points skyward towards the see of speckled green. “What’s up there?”

    I think of the fluttering insects, the prehistoric lizards, the myriad of rainbow coloured birds, the all seeing eyes of the puma. “Almost all the life of the rainforest is up there,” I tell him. Then I think of the shadows and the light he used to play with. “It’s easier to see the dark watery floor around us than look at sky. Almost all of the sunlight is captured by the top of the forest.”

    I hold him closely on the gentle life-giving waves. I look at the dark roots and know they lead to brightness.

    Reply
  15. Foy S. Iver

    @fs_iver
    WC: 349

    The Dreamer

    Ever since he’d been a hopeful shoot, growing his body further into the wet world, Root wanted one thing: to become a Moontree.

    The other roots – they didn’t give themselves names – scolaughed and jeettered.

    “Sapling.”

    “Land lover.”

    “Dreamer.”

    Trees are grounded folk so “dreamer” was their worst insult. It would’ve made Root cry, but he knew that “dreamer” was just another word for “visionary” and visioneers discovered things because of those visions, also known as dreams. It was the way you looked at a word that made it good or bad.

    So he kept dreaming.

    One day he would be the first to push his toes into Moonsoil.

    That day came sooner than Root hoped and much sooner than the roots doubted.

    It was a Wednesday.

    The moon was a newborn blue.

    She came out of the gray, her translucent skin a dark light in that dank place. Her snakelike hair was pulled back from her galaxy eyes, and on her hip she carried a silver handsaw.

    Root was transfixed.

    She picked her way through them, feeling their limbs, tasting their bark, and studying their tips. She crouched by another, unclipping the handsaw, then cupping the wood with her hand.

    Root trembled. This creeping fear was unfamiliar. What if she didn’t choose him? What if he was left to rot in murky water, while another took his place?

    He squeaked.

    Not a loud squeak, but desperate.

    She stopped, shifted.

    Root did his best to look irrefusable.

    Dropping the limb, she slipped over to him.

    It was a slow pain that built into a symphony of hurt. The other roots watched in infinite fear that she would cut them, too.

    She didn’t.

    When it was over, Root felt weightless. Like he’d been weighed down by cares he didn’t know he had.

    She took him to her ship, and a light from inside made the bog more beautiful than ever.

    Root looked back. The roots colors were incredulous.

    Her language was all slips and clicks, but he knew her words.

    “Strong hope in this one. Should fuel us ’til the 7th Quadrant.”

    Reply
  16. feclark

    @feclarkart
    343 words

    No Butterfly Wings

    I cannot even remember when it began, it was at the time, of so little consequence; a buzzing in my right big toe. I only really noticed when the numbness spread over my whole foot and even then we joked about it. As the loss of feeling advanced up my shin I had this creeping fear that I was to be turned to stone.

    Then came the dizziness, the falling over, the headaches, the stone cold tiredness, and the viruses.

    Pains – unbearable pains. The loss of words.

    Petrified.

    Then came the tests: bodily fluids, scans, the tiny hammer to my knees – while all the while the fear crept. Tongue fumbling attempts at describing the hundred different intermittent symptoms left me exhausted and tearful.

    ‘I will sign you off work for a few weeks. We could try this drug.’

    A diagnosis of exclusion, a double negative, this ticket allowed me entrance to the ‘What do you expect me to do about it?’ list with my Doctor.

    Then came sloughs of brain-fogged days, night terrors, sweats, shakes. The seclusion.
    Like autumn leaves falling, pieces of my life fell and were lost. It cost too much energy to explain, even to friends, and these too fell away.

    Trips out became marathons of difficulty and panic – from the corners of my eyes other worldly shapes threatened. Floors twisted and buckled beneath my shuffling feet.

    Then came the drugs to stop the side effects of the drugs that did not seem to be working, months skated past. A harsh winter huddled down, lost to all, a giving in of spirit.

    Then one day, the green smell of spring in the air rang clearly through my being and brought with it the urge to stop all the medications. My body violently purging the chemicals, I began to emerge. Crawling through the shattered glass of dependence, a creature half gone – no butterfly wings for me.

    The symptoms surge back, a tide of known pains, I breathe with them.

    Here I am now, part broken, part petrified.

    Changed, but still here.

    Reply
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  18. Mark A. King

    Going Underground

    @making_fiction

    347 words

    Beneath the surface, the Underground twists like the dark, haphazard roots of London. The roots feed the city and two million travelling souls are silent and unseen beneath the capital.

    Angels and devils travel the darkened tunnels. This creeping fear—of love? Of hope? Of survival? Only they know what drives them into the roots of the city.

    Barking dogs are silenced, at least in this place, far below the ground.

    Canary Wharf approaches, the skyscrapers of gold glow above these twisted roots.

    Dagenham Dave waits aboveground, white-van-man tan on one arm of his body the other is ghostly white.

    Earls Court ladies, or at least they did in the old days. Now they probably just use Tinder.

    Fleet passengers steal glances and imagine lives that are not theirs.

    Green Parks are just dreams in the florescent light and zap, zap, zap of sparks.

    Harrowing darkness, claustrophobia and germs—this is no place for phobias.

    Isle of Dogs, so it is, but there are so many people, and rats.

    Jubilee celebrations are long forgotten. The Queen now adorns gaudy mugs and tourist tat on cheap market-stalls.

    Kings Cross swords across shoulders as they knight the wealthy and the famous.

    London Bridge is not falling down, it was purchased by an American.

    Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western—they all come. They all have their own reasons.

    Old Streets mix with new streets. Old fears mix with new. Yet they still keep coming.

    Purley kings and Pearly Queens rub shoulders and compare shiny buttons.

    Queens Park where they want to, or their chauffeurs and bodyguards do.

    Russell Squares up to anyone, he’s always like this after six cans of Special Brew.

    Seven Sisters out for a hen night, in their gaudy pink finery.

    Temples, churches, mosques and synagogues on almost every street.

    Underground, the city looks curved and distorted.

    Victoria has secrets, but it’s nothing to do with underwear.

    Wood Lanes and avenues are not to be seen.

    X is for cross, but also a kiss.

    York Road is a ghost station, do ghosts wait there for trains?

    Zzz

    Reply
    1. Mark A. King

      The above was more of an extreme writing challenge for me to complete rather than a serious entry. Story in experimental format, A-Z, using London Underground references wherever possible. Based on the underground roots of a city. Z beat me – boo.

      Reply
    2. KM Zafari

      Very creative! (I live in AZ, a few hours from where the London Bridge now resides – in a very hot place.) Your first paragraph sets it up perfectly, and even I, as a foreigner, understood what you were doing. Really cool.

      Reply
  19. Sonya

    @_supersonya
    100 words

    Blink

    Gripped by this creeping fear that somethings’s watching me, I try to wake myself up. But slumber clings to me like early-morning fog to the ground. I’m trapped, neither awake nor asleep, in a room filled with eyes.

    It must be a dream within a dream, like in that movie I didn’t understand. Once the dream dream is over, I’ll wake up alone and the sun will be out. Calmed by the thought, I close my eyes to get it over with.

    I’ve almost drifted off when the sound of hundreds of eyes blinking reels me back into the trap.

    Reply
  20. Pingback: Blink! | Only 100 Words

  21. Catherine Connolly

    The Isle Of Roots

    Few walk the Isle of Roots; its twisted, misted shores. Little lives amidst this creeping fear, the writhing souls wailing underfoot. A calcified collection, preserved in partial dessication, of self-sought deaths from whom answers may be sought by those brave enough to ask – though they speak only when they choose, to guide the way. Wandering spirits return seldom when they cross the island’s bounds. Truth takes chances in the speaking. It has ever been the case.

    The tree itself lies amidst a heart of knotted roots for those who swim tear salt tides to it, casting themselves towards the child-like keening reaching from the boughs into the ocean. Those who reach its sanctuary place their offering before it, adding to the pile heaped about the thick trunk. There they wait, a body of bark surrounding them, bones beginning to dry, animation engineered by their questions. They do not know and cannot guess which items warranted success. They do not ask. They will not waste their singular opportunity, should it be offered.

    Once whittled to a skeletal sylph, the ghost takes residence in the brittle embrace of the prone and prostrate, lying within reach of their goal. Pilgrim, now, she is. Poor, those dismissed as unworthy to proffer themselves properly. Still, they hold her close in their clutches whilst they may; scant communion with opportunity. They number many. There are others to be added.

    Time turns before the undulations begin underfoot and she stirs, stretching arms wide. Such is the island’s speech. Branches hold fast to her ankles and grip at her wrists as her fingers touch the ground, hesitant, to raise her from it. Silent amidst the now still limbs, surrounded by the entombed, she nods; an affirmation. The answers are many, though the question was but one. She caresses the uneven surface, which releases its hold on her hands, freeing her feet to stand.

    Within an indeterminate period, a once wandering spirit returns to the island’s bounds, laying herself in offering on its twisted, misted shores, bones breaking into bark with the touch of the tear salt tides.

    @FallIntoFiction

    (350 words)

    Reply
  22. mtdecker

    Whispers
    53 Words

    Whispers

    We sit. Waiting.
    Unsure of what the night will bring
    Joyous or terrifying
    We will not know
    Until it is upon us
    This moment
    This creeping fear
    That paralyzes us
    Keeps us to our seats
    Praying they will pass us by
    And we may remain
    At peace.
    Perhaps we should have gone
    Bowling.

    @mishmhem
    #FlashDogs

    Reply
  23. mariemck1

    Sensing
    (137 words)
    @elaine173marie

    This creeping fear climbs up my neck, walks its cold fingers across my scalp.
    I don’t hear or see you, but I know you’re there. You’re in the forked hands of the trees, the blind eyes of the birds, the silence hanging in the air.
    You’ve swallowed the light of the stars and drank the silver liquid of the moon so that they hang blank in the night sky.

    I don’t call out for you’ll only steal my voice; instead, I go forward. You have not reached the future so I head there; the only thing I have left. Yet that’s nothing, and you know it. You only need now to keep me prisoner.
    And I can’t hear your cruel laughter, but I can feel it goad me through the vibrating, grey dust at my feet.

    Reply
  24. zevonesque

    The Project
    A.J. Walker

    “Governor, I’m quite at a loss to understand why Mr Martin is in the asylum. He’s quite the most erudite man I’ve met this season,” said Elizabeth.

    The Governor smiled, his spindly hands steepled.

    “I know. He’s quite charming and more intelligent than any of the staff.”

    The Governor paused. “But if you saw him on one of his difficult days then you would have no qualms. He is insane and a danger to himself and society.”

    Over his shoulder Elizabeth could see, through the barred window, Martin pacing slowly through the garden, taking the time to enjoy the roses.

    “I’ll come to see him again,” She turned to look at the Governor. “He’ll be my project.”

    “As a patron of course you are welcome to visit the asylum, but I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed by your project.”

    Elizabeth accompanied Martin in a walk through the garden towards the river. He looked untidy and tired today, his food stained shirt buttoned up wrong.

    “Who are you, miss?”

    “We’ve met before Mr Martin. You were quite charming. Has anything happened?”

    “Every night they come for me. Men – bad men – coming up through the floor boards and climbing down through the ceiling. They perform such unspeakables.”

    “Oh dear lord. Poor man.”

    “I’m going to get one soon – and show the Governor; so he can’t hide it anymore.”

    Elizabeth felt comforted by the guard a pace behind.

    Beside the river they stopped by a gnarly old tree, the roots were remarkably artistic thought Elizabeth.

    Martin tensed – he saw them coming. Out in the open now – not needing darkness. They were wadng out of the river under the cover of the mangrove. Their contorted bodies all started to rise together.

    He pulled out a knife concealed beneath his belt, stabbing erratically towards the countless men.

    Elizabeth screamed at the bizarre sight. Martin spun like a dervish. The knife slashing through Elizabeth’s arm and the helpless guard’s belly. The too bright blood spurted like garden fountains. Martin pounced on to her. He stabbed her viciously again and again.

    “I’ve got one, Governor. I’ve got one!”

    (350 words)
    @zevonesque

    Reply
  25. Anita Harkess

    Moving
    347 words
    @anitanomad
    Anita Harkess

    It was this creeping fear that attracted me to him in the first place. Our eyes had met across the room at the Rhodywood Filmmakers gala, and he’d swum through the crowd just to tell me that he had to know me, that he could feel that we were kindred spirits. I’d felt it, too. It was in his eyes, that swirling mix of greys, that darkness of something ending and something much stranger coming to be. The energy of that terror was irresistible.
    I’ve said that I moved to New England to build my film career, because there’s so much more happening here than in Arizona. That was the excuse my conscious mind made up. In Arizona, whatever died stayed dead, baked in sunlight, dried to dust, and blew away. Here, whatever dies decays. It sinks into a sludge of terrifying possibilities. Things much older than humanity feed on it and grow and rise up. I really came because I wanted to know that fear.
    And that’s what I saw in his impossibly deep grey eyes. Since the night we met, we’ve been nearly inseparable. Tonight, he said he had something to show me. I hadn’t known this marsh existed, so close to Providence. He tells me that only a few locals know, the oldest ones, whose families have always been here and always will be. He rows the little boat for us while I take in the scene. Drowned trees stand rotting all around, their roots forming a maze. He weaves our boat into the biggest tree’s tangle, sets down the oars, and wraps his arms around me. “Watch,” he whispers into my hair.
    I obey. I feel more than see the roots changing shape, forming heads that look up as backs uncurl and arms and legs unfold. By the time the eyes open and their blue glow covers us, the fear I’d always felt around him is amplified beyond my comprehension. This terror is ecstasy.
    “I’ve searched all my life for you,” he murmurs, “a love I can bring home to meet my family.”

    Reply

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