October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Marlo » October 4th, 2015, 12:40 pm

Please post all entries in this thread!



R U L E S . & . G U I D E L I N E S

- Only one entry per writer.
- The entry can be as long or as short as the writer feels necessary.
- The subject does not have to be grid related, just from your brain!
- Must pick between two topics: All encompassing horror/macabre theme or The Seven Deadly Sins theme.
- Grammar, spelling and overall flow will still be graded.
- Your pieces can be edited by anyone who is not a judge.
- There is no need to sign up, just post your entry in this thread when it's done!
- All entries must be posted by October 18, 2015.




P R I Z E S
FIRST PLACE:
3 graphics of your choosing done by Aimee (Marlo) [Must be horror/macabre/halloween themed].
1 avatar and banner set done by Kim (SilentAria) [Must be horror/macabre/halloween themed].
1 avatar and banner set done by Megatron (Seppuku) [Must be horror/macabre/halloween themed].


SECOND PLACE:
2 graphics of your choosing done by Aimee (Marlo) [Must be horror/macabre/halloween themed].
1 avatar and banner set done by Kim (SilentAria) [Must be horror/macabre/halloween themed].
1 avatar and banner set done by Megatron (Seppuku) [Must be horror/macabre/halloween themed].

THIRD PLACE:
1 graphic of your choosing done by Aimee (Marlo) [Must be horror/macabre/halloween themed].
1 avatar and banner set done by Kim (SilentAria) [Must be horror/macabre/halloween themed].
1 avatar and banner set done by Megatron (Seppuku) [Must be horror/macabre/halloween themed].





J U D G E S
Aimee (Marlo)
Kim (SilentAria)
Megatron (Seppuku)



** I'm still hoping to find TWO more people to judge. If you're interested, please send me a PM.
** Also! If you're interested in offering anymore prizes, please PM me! (If you are interested in offering more graphics, they don't have to be horror themed! What you offer is completely up to you!)



Happy writing and good luck to everyone interested! :writing:
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Aziza » October 6th, 2015, 2:05 pm

Lust


There was a time when you were ruled by your body... when others ruled over it, too. Even after your time in the underground, you - the woman who then became the vampire - were pulled in all directions, but mostly towards the filthy and the destitute because they were easy pickings. For years upon years, you used your wiles and your charms to persuade all manner of person into your bed to get your satisfaction and then you would cast them out or kill them depending on the mood of the night. There was a point in time you eventually lost count of all the lovers you'd taken in and disposed of. A streak that never truly ended. To this day, you still bed whomever catches your fancy, purely because you can.

Pride


That saying, "Pride cometh before the fall." It applied. Oh, did it ever. Once upon a time things were different. You had reasons to be proud and that had led you down a treacherous path. For a long time, you'd seen it coming, but had ignored it. Ignored the people around you that had tried to teach you. Had damned them internally, and it had gotten you no where. And now? Now you were nothing, no one. You'd let yourself be taken in by your own achievements of the time and had failed to absorb knowledge from others around you. At that point, it had all started coming apart, and you felt it happening, but did nothing to stop it.

Greed


It was never about money, power, or fame. It was about love. Or so you'd told yourself. Collecting person after person under the guise of family. Maybe somewhere in your heart you had room for it, but what had it eventually cost? What had it finally come down to in the end? Emptiness, loneliness, and pain. Childe after childe, your partner, even your sire. Collecting people like fucking stamps and hoping that it would be enough, clinging to each of them like they were the lifeboat and you were the one drowning in the ocean and hoping beyond your capacity for hope that having all of them would end your suffering. Greed comes in many forms... and this was yours.

Envy


Their smiles grate on your nerves like nails on a chalkboard. Their laughter is the sound of torture in your ears. These things you can't fathom, this happiness you can no longer reach. You despise them their joy and nasty prayers leave your mind and enter the world around you. Your hope is tainted with the thoughts of bringing despair to these faces that surround you. The sadness that you've let yourself succumb to has secluded you from the things you cherished once. It has brought you nothing but bitterness and yet you can't get yourself to feel right again. Your heart aches and your mind imagines the demise of all the happy faces.

Gluttony


The blood drips from your fingers as the body falls to the ground. You hadn't needed to feed, but you'd wanted to kill. You drank anyway, felt the warmth of it through your body. And again. And again. A dozen kills this night, how many the next? Anything to fill the void you feel consuming you. It's not what you need, it's not even what you want, but you continue on as though this desperate act will save you, free you from the bonds that weigh you down when you're alone and idle. You're wild and frenzied, but your heart isn't in it. You would be having fun if it were. This isn't fun, it's not even necessary. It's just what you do to pass the time. Overindulge and carry on. What would they think if they could see you now?

Wrath


It doesn't touch you now, the rage you felt for so long. But you think of the times when it did. It enveloped your heart and your mind in a blanket of red and black and you could think of nothing other than revenge. You needed to get back at what he'd done to you, to your family. It took you half a century to find him, but you had. Your father was waiting for you when you came for him. And you were just a whirlwind of blades and nails and teeth. You didn't come out of it unscathed, but you had come out the victor. It used to bring you such comfort, that constant burning need to end it. But when it was over, you felt nothing. No contentment, no satisfaction. But the anger was still there, simmering just beneath the surface. And in that moment you'd known he'd never let you go. Dead or alive, it hadn't changed what he'd done. And you slaughtered too many people that night to care, but it did nothing to sate your pain. Your past is written in that rage and you can't undo it. Not now, not ever. No matter how hard you try to leave it behind.

Sloth


What are you now? A shell. A shadow. A creature that once was magnificent, but now is hollow and lightless. Fireless. Burned out and wasted. What do you do? Wallow. Hide. Drown yourself in alcohol to try and forget. It never works. The signs are all around you. You had what you wanted, but you let it slip through your fingers. What did you do to stop it? Not a damn thing. You kept telling yourself you were trying, trying so hard, tried to convince others of it, too. But they could see through you. You're as transparent as glass, but they humor you. Crumbs of a life you thought you had. A life you could've had. What do you do now? Nothing.
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Drake » October 6th, 2015, 11:17 pm

They didn't listen to me. They never do. Here I was trapped inside my own closet listening to the strange noises that came from the other side of the door. Scratching, clawing, and a horrible wailing from the thing on the other side of the door. Tears rolled down my cheeks as my lungs tried to get more oxygen into my body. The more I tried to breathe the harder it got. My heart was pounding in my ears, but I could still hear it trying to get to me.

The family had finally moved out of the city and returned to a small town in the middle of nowhere usa. The town was nice enough to us and father's job wasn't to far away, mother got a new job at the gas station in the middle of town. That left me alone a lot to do as I wanted. It was near the end of the school year so I wasn't to be enrolled until the upcoming school year. This left me with a lot of time to explore the area, I thought I was tough going into highschool as a freshman. I thought I could handle anything, until I found that door in back yard hidden under the weeds. Two things odd about this door in the back yard, one there were etchings in the metal and the concrete, and two there was a thick chain across the door and staked into the concrete.

Something deep down with in me told me to leave and forget the door was there, but I was stupid enough to push the feeling away. I ran back to the house in search for a pair of bolt cutters. Sighing I was starting to give up on finding the darn things when out of the corner of my eye I spotted them, a grin spread over my features as my eyes lit up. Finally found them! Now to go open that door and see what is inside of there! I let out a giggle picking the bolt cutters up and moving back out to that door.

I should have listened to my gut that day for when I cut the thick chain there was a small explosion that knocked me back and the door off of its hinges, it landed only a few feet away from me. My ears were ringing it was all I could hear other than my own beating heart and that sounded like it was far off in the distances. I was having trouble breathing, I couldn't pull in enough air into my lungs. I tried to get up off the ground, was only able to sit up and look at where the door once was.

The smell that rose out of that pitch black hole made everything I had ate and everything I have ever thought of eating came out. I raised my arm up to press it against my nose after I had an empty stomach. There were tears in my eyes making everything blurry I couldn't tell what I was seeing. I tried blinking the tears away I thought I saw something crawling out of the hole in the ground, when I looked again nothing was there. The feeling of wanting to go look into that hole was gone, I just wanted to go crawl in bed.
It took me a while to be able to move right and make it back to the house. I didn't even try to move the door that was blown off, didn't even look at it. I made it back to the house and crawled into bed right as my mother got home. I thought for sure she was going to say something about hearing a big explosion, but nothing. I was happy for that.

That night was normal nothing started to happen until after my mother and father left in the morning. I was half asleep walking around in my room debating if I should get dressed or not. The front door closed.' I am up.' I called out thinking it was my mother popping back in, but no sound from her. I moved through the house only to stop and stare out the window towards where the door and hole was. I slipped on some flip flops and headed out. That was my second mistake going back out to the hole. It was around ten in the morning so the sun was up and shining down around. Every where, but that hole light from the sun didn't even pierce the blackness inside of it.

I swallowed hard throat suddenly dry from being so close to it. Now I never had a fear of dark places my whole life, even enjoyed walks at night. This wasn't like the night I knew this was darker than that. I couldn't turn my back to the hole a bad feeling was building up as the the birds went silent. I backed up away from it coming to a stop next to the door, I tore my eyes away from the hole to look at the door. My breath caught in my throat there on the door were claw marks. Not nail marks no no. Four deep claw marks in different spots on the door.

A loud wail came out of the hole that made me freeze in place from fear. it was unlike anything I've ever heard. My heart started pounding quickly my lungs trying to fill up but unable to making my chest rise and fall quickly. Something moved out of the corner of my eyes from the hole that threw my body out of the frozen terror I was in. I bolted right to the house.

I could hear something behind me running, the sounds of something heavy pounding against the ground getting closer and closer. Tears burned my eyes I didn't want to die, I had to make it back to the house. The smell of whatever it was washed over me, something hot hit the back of my neck as I pushed the door open and slammed it behind me. I fell and pressed my back against the door breathing heavily. Air my lungs were crying out for fresh air.

I shook as I sat there maybe my head was messed up from yesterday and what just happened didn't. Just caused by fear of what happened. I took deep calming breaths of air before looking down at my shirt. There around the edge was a chunk missing out of it. Panic mode returned, I had almost died there was something out there. It was chasing me! The world started to go black my vision fading from the lack of enough of oxygen. There was a sound outside the door that kept me from slipping into that dark place. Whatever it was it was knocking on the door.

My hand shot up and quickly flicked the locks over before I slowly crawled my way to the bedroom. I sat in the corner afraid to move until my parents got home. They found me like that and were worried until I told them something had chased me back to the house and that it almost had me. I couldn't tell them about the door they would go out and look at it. They brushed it off saying it was probably just some animal I had snuck up on with its babies. I tried to tell them that it couldn't have been.

I fell silent they didn't want to hear anymore of it, I even started to doubt myself but the knocking was clear. I refused to sleep that night for I know what would come in my dreams and I didn't feel safe at night or the day now. For days I stayed in the house trying to avoid looking out towards where the door was, but I couldn't help it I had to look everytime I did there was a quick flash of something dark, shadow like move between the trees.

I could feel it watching me as I tried to watch it, every morning my parents left I went around locking all the doors and making sure the windows were closed. Each day the knocking returned getting worse until the door knob started to turn. I couldn't tell my parents they would just brush it off and tell me to get some fresh air. I started to go days without sleep, or if I did sleep it was right after I locked all the doors and checked the windows.

That is how I made my mistake one morning. I locked the doors and checked the windows then headed for bed. I could still feel it watching me waiting for the right time to come and get me, but I was safe. Safe inside of my home on my bed. How stupid I was to think that my mother forgot something and came home to retrieve it. She closed the door behind her but didn't lock it.

I was sound asleep when I heard it it pulled me out of the blackness of my dreams. The knocking then the full turn of the door knob. My eyes widened as I shot out of bed to close my bedroom door. I could hear the nails clicking away on the floors as it got closer to my bedroom. My throat went dry, my heart raced. This had to be a dream! I locked all the doors! But I wasn't willing to bet my life on it. I moved into my closet closing the door as quietly as I could and shrank down to the floor with my back pressed against the wall.
My bedroom door was opened, I couldn't breath as tears swelled up in my eyes. There was silence on the other side of my closet door, like it had changed it's mind and left, then came the clawing and scratching at the door. I screamed until I couldn't scream anymore. It was tearing through the door to get to me. I was crying and my lungs were burning while the thing wailed on the other side of the door. My body wouldn't allow me to move from where I sat. I couldn't out run it, I couldn't fight it, I couldn't do anything but wait.

My mind had enough it shut down, just as the thing broke through the door. I don't know how long I was out or even if I was still alive, my eyes opened so I had to be alive. All I could see was darkness, then I heard it. It sounded like it was laughing and circling me. I couldn't move, it could see me yet I couldn't see it. This was its playground and I was the newest play toy. It didn't take long I felt this pressure on my throat before the sharp pain of its teeth dug into my throat. I could feel my blood pouring down my front. It was the end to my short life nothing important, little speck of human life.

My life has ended because of one large mistake, now I watch from the afterlife as they begin to search for me. They found that hole but didn't go in they didn't need to for the wailing sound rose out of it and had them running away. I tried to stop them but now soon they will both join my bones in that pit of complete darkness and their souls will join mine. Our family will be together again. The knocking sound echoed off the front door and the game was being played again.
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Church » October 9th, 2015, 1:12 am

“I can fix us. I can. I can.”


It'd been easy.

Too easy.

There was a blow to the back of his head, and a deafening crack!, and the wrench he often used to fix his bikes fell - down to the floor with a clatter that felt like thunder. Had he been human, he would've died. He'd be dead. Gone.
Instead, he fell - useless, to the floor, and the wings that were so much like hers dropped into a slump, lifeless. She'd been smiling, then, something wide and dark and full of teeth.

“We'll both be human. It's okay..”

She'd dragged his body down the hallway, through the door and into the kitchen, and she'd already set everything up for her self-appointed task. He would be proud, she'd thought. Her methods of organising wouldn't go unnoticed when her brother woke, of that, she was certain.
Everything had been placed exactly where she wanted it, and to anyone else, it wouldn't have made sense. “He will understand,” she said. Nobody else would.
She had him on the table, now, blonde strands of hair clinging to the back of her neck and cheeks with the wetness of the sweat she'd worked up like a sort of grisly halo.
When South pressed a hand to his face, she was still smiling - because she knew, and knowing was half the race. She knew.
In the end, he'd be grateful.

This is what we need." She murmured, her voice hoarse and frantic like an overexcited child. "You didn't understand it then. But now, you will.”

“South...” a whispered utterance, and his eyes fluttered, as though waking. He needed to stay down, to stay under. She had a vial in her hands, and she used it before his eyes opened. Its contents put a stop to any fighting or screaming he might have been able to do.
She stroked her tremulous, tiny fingers through short strands of brown hair, and there was the lulling sound of song in the air as she hummed - a soothing croon, something he'd often done for her, when they were children.

It was time for her to look out for him, now.
To protect him.
It was time.
*

“What is that..?”
“Hm..?”
“That song. What is it?”
“It's 'Just Friends', remember?”
“Oh. Of course. I liked that one..”
“I know.”


*



The knife in her hands slipped. She'd been trying so hard to cut perfectly, to minimise the damage, but when the serrated edges sawed through flesh like it was butter, and the tip hit bone, ground against it, the rounded incision became jagged and messy. Her smile never wavered, even with the thick coating of red on her hands.
There was so much blood. She forced the knife deeper, anyway, dove in with the blade as her muscles burned, and from there, all she had to do was carve.
The body beneath her hands jerked. A pained groan filled the air, and then there was silence. She continued where she'd left off - she did not stop, she could not stop- and the knife slid against her wet skin with its gore, metal scraping back and forth over bone, splintering, cutting, sawing slowly through.
Inch by inch.

“We're almost there," she soothed, anxious. "This is good. You're going to be just fine.”

There was so much blood.

The knife made full circle.
South pressed her sharp little fingers into feathers, and then she was twisting, pulling at the wing in her small, trembling hands, holding onto a lifeline she wanted to tear down, to pull out, to extirpate like a cancer. There was a sickening crack, snap and pop!

His scream crescendoed and echoed across the empty walls like a mantra. She felt the ground tremor beneath her feet with it.

South giggled, through ragged breaths, and Church saw Hell once more, looking back at him from his little sister's wide blue eyes.

“One down, brother...”

*

“There's no place in heaven for creatures like us, Church. You know that, don't you? There's only one solution. One way I can be reunited with him. And I can't do it without you. We need this.”

*


If the first wing was difficult, the second was much, much worse.
The knife she wielded had dulled - there was no time to replace it, and he'd stirred again, a bleary, unfocused look in his eyes as he'd lifted his head to gaze at her. The betrayal there, the hurt, the rage had been so profound.

“You'll forgive me. You will.” She'd promised him, unsteady fingers threading once again through his hair, tugging sharply where his own dried blood matted and knotted strands together. He'd dropped his head back onto the table, then, and his breathing had evened out, as though sleeping.

She drove the knife back into flesh, and all Church could do was whimper. She thought maybe he'd finally resigned himself to his fate.
Her smile grew, just a fraction.

The sound of the knife hacking through bone was as grating as ever, the tip of the blade forcing its way through his shoulder-blade, and for a moment, South couldn't free it – had to twist and pull and grind the knife against bone until it broke free, but she didn't stop. Stopping would be futile, at this point. He'd already come so far. The perfect transformation. There was an end to this, she could see it. With just one more push, it'd be over.

She wedged the knife beneath the groove in bone she'd made, and slammed her weight behind the handle.
CRACK!
The wing snapped away.
Church had no screams left to give.

*

They'd been sitting on the grass one night, or, more accurately, Church had been sprawled, with his head in South's lap, whilst
she'd been sitting on the grass. And he'd been chewing his nails as usual, a habit she'd often tried to get him to break, but both pairs of blue eyes were to the stars above them, the clouds few and far between - a lazy crawl across the midnight sky.
She looked down to him, then, an easy smile upon her pink lips.
“What's your favourite thing, about being what we are, Church?” she'd asked, curious.
Church had given her this look, as though he didn't quite understand the question. As though, with everything that had happened to him, to her, there was nothing in him he had left to favour.
And then he was smiling.
“My wings, prob'ly. They're bad ass, don't you think?”
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Jaida » October 18th, 2015, 12:07 pm

The woods stilled to a perfect calm, a prolonged moment of silence, as if the earth called for recognition of existence from all things living, including the thick of the forest itself. Nothing moved. The trees grasped tightly to the ground by their spindling roots and, for once in their lives, refused to complain about it — no creaks, no groans, no hushed utterances of disapproval to their neighbors as soft sighs in the wood. Their branches rested silently, though the lowest of them -- the ones closest to eye level -- sagged as if weeping. Tiny trails of rain coursed down the mud colored leaves, momentarily invisible to the naked eye, until falling, and then flashing brilliant and momentary by the catch of light from the dying sun as drop after drop plunged from branch to earth. Even the soft pat, pat, pat of residual water and gravity had a sense of quiet to it.

Not to be ignored, a black-crowned night heron started up its habitual chirping and clicking in the distance. Its calls and cackles echoed among the black trunks of the forest and delved deep in the gouges and scars of them created by a fire years before.

She’d been only a little girl when it happened, too young yet to remember anything at all except maybe what the sound of her mother’s panicked voice had been, but the land remembered. Somehow, she felt, the land always remembered things significant to it.

Old and timeless, the land stretched so far that even she herself, born and bred on the property, had yet to explore it completely and not for lack of trying. She knew the nooks and crannies of the whole creek and its various run-offs that divied the land into five complete fractions, and she knew the best ridges, but there was so much more to it than that. And being that the property laid inland, far less dramatic than the mountainous ranges to the north, the rolling hills banked to open countryside for acres and acres, making every bit of it accessible in some way. The problem was that it was too big and, well, her time was too limited.

Even at that moment, standing only partway in the mouth of the narrow path through the woods leading to the north bend of the creek, waiting for the rest of the world to catch up, she felt the rush of seconds tick away against her. Her father would be home from the old mill at any time, and she needed to beat him there and be the first to set the table. At least supper was already cooked, waiting in the oven in a cast iron skillet to keep warm until it was ready to be served. She’d seen to that much beforehand. But at the end of day when there’d been a good rain, just before dusk, after being alone for all the hours while her father worked, she couldn’t fight the compulsion to meet and defy the Hush, as she called it. The Hush of the Land, an ancient phenomenon that happened — that overwhelming stillness of the damp earth.

The fog could finally move again, and as it whispered over the black ground, the night heron cried louder, and told her it was time to go back.

The old Duke house sat right in the middle of its largest field, out and away from the thick wood that protected some of the more notorious predators of the area — mostly the coyotes, foxes, and the occasional black bear. It stood out as an eyesore that didn’t belong there, simply because it was man-made. Her grandfather had the place built specifically for his eldest son, and not a single thing had changed since its construction in 1947. The only additions, in the thirty-two years since, were maybe a new tool shed built off the back of it in the ‘60’s and which way the path curved through the sea of wild weeds that surrounded it.

She hiked her dress up and raced toward the front. Sand cordgrass and tiny prairie flowers slapped her thighs and knees, but she made it there to see the dim lights of her father’s old Ford just emerging down the driveway from the wood front. There was plenty of time yet to put supper out and clean away all of the evidence of dead leaves and dirt from her bare feet.

Trammel Duke was what people referred to as a ‘sturdy’ man, and in recent years, now that she was getting older and able to pick up on the subtleties of adult conversation, she learned that they meant both in mind and spirit as well as body. At six foot, with shoulders as wide as a water wheel, it was easy to see why, but he hardly said much, and according to stories, he had always sort of been that way. By the look of his eyes — the color of dried grass — he didn’t seem to be holding anything back by omission. It simply wasn’t there to begin with. And as a God fearing man, it went without question that his convictions were all in the right places and wouldn’t be easily swayed either which way from where they’d been planted in his mind since the very day he was born.

Yes, he was a sturdy man, and he carried the scent of raw cotton with him everywhere he went, no matter what he tried to do. She’d long stopped trying to wash his clothes any differently than she washed her own, especially since he never seemed to notice. But Trammel never noticed very much of anything that wasn’t directly in front of him. If it didn’t stand in his way, or if it didn’t prevent him from functioning the way he always had, then it might as well be invisible — or something for someone else to tend to. Such as that the stove they had to use was an old wood-burner — not because better wasn’t available, but because it wasn’t broken and therefore didn’t need to be replaced, or upgraded.

Trammel Duke was a miser, clear as air, and his daughter saw as much before anyone else did. If he was ‘sturdy’ in mind, soul, and body, then he was as sturdy where his pocket and wallet were concerned. And sturdy in his attitude, for that matter, because when they both sat down to eat together at the same small table — mere feet from each other, face to face — neither had anything to say.

It was no secret to her, or anyone really, that he would’ve been better off with a son and he truly thought as much. With a son, he could’ve hauled him down to the mill to work during the summer breaks, when school was postponed for months in the hot season. But a daughter, well, he didn’t know much about what to do with one of those. It wasn’t so much that he didn’t love her — she knew he did, in his way — but he couldn't seem to wrap his head around the fact that she would have different needs than his own. He kept her clothed, kept her fed, and he delegated her house chores, and as far as Trammel was concerned, that was the bulk of raising a woman. One of three brothers, it was easy to see why.

It might not have been so bad were her mother around to help with it, but as it stood, it was just the two of them, equally at a loss about the other. He didn’t want to know what she did all day so long as the house was kept and she long since stopped asking how his work was down at the mill when the same unenthusiastic “Fine” was the answer every time she asked.

But at last he did speak. She’d finished the food on her plate, but kept it in front of her so that she’d have something to look at while Trammel finished his. He’d poured himself a second glass of Johnnie Walker — an expense he was willing to pay out every month for — and had just taken a sip of it when he interrupted the silence and said, “Royce is coming up and he’s bringing the young’uns. We’ll be going up to Sumter for a few days. Wyatt’s old enough now that he can be along with us, but the twins are going to stay here with you.”

The twins, Almon and Allie May Duke, or “Alls” and “Allie” as they were affectionately called since their birth, were little less than two explosive sticks of dynamite. Even though they stood at least two heads shorter than her, they still managed to make as much of a fuss as a coo of old bitties all clustered together for days on end. They were the first things anyone spoke about of the whole Duke family anymore, and they would surely be the last before their time was done.

Wyatt, on the other hand, had turned out to be very much like their father, Royce. Quiet — but not as empty as Trammel, his brother — Royce made up for his lack of words by his big smile. It was a wonder to everyone how he got along through life as timid as he tended to be, but she reckoned that was just part of her uncle’s charm. People seemed to favor him more for it and it was only a matter of time before Wyatt was regarded with the same respect.

“Where’s Aunt Jo?” she asked.

Trammel didn’t look up from his plate. “Who knows,” he said, and his face twisted up like a water-logged fingerprint.

He would regard women that way, she thought. As if all of them had the wile and wits about them to be as cunning and deceptive as the predators that stalked the field. He meant, of course, that Aunt Jo, Royce’s wife, had said she was visiting her mother in Alabama somewhere, but who really knew for sure. Though people did talk quite often of how queer it was that Jo’s mother should need visiting so much and still be in perfect health, no one said the other disgraceful things they all thought, especially not in front of Uncle Royce.

It explained, at least, why she hadn’t shown up at church the previous Sunday, but the rest of her family had been there as dutifully as always. And why the twins would need watching by someone that wasn’t their mother.

“Leota?”

She quickly looked up at the sound of her name. Trammel stood by the table, his plate empty and left behind. Thankfully, he looked occupied enough with pouring his third and final glass of Johnnie Walker.

“Did you hear me?” he asked.

She didn’t want to give him any indication that she hadn’t.

At last, he said, “Finish up the kitchen and get to bed, now. They’ll be here by midday tomorrow and then we’re gone.”

“Yes, daddy,” she answered.

He walked from the kitchen across the living room and into the tiny hall just beyond, making the other side of the small two-bedroom house. His door was the first one to come to, and since he took his glass with him, he shut it behind him. The bathroom separated their rooms, and through the night she would hear him get up to relieve himself in it before retiring again. It was the same habit every night, and the same haphazard shuffling noises that rocked the floor.

The only other space available was the room upstairs. It couldn’t, by rights, be considered an entire second floor, but more of an attic divided into two rooms, if the open space the stairs led to could be considered a room of its own. The ceiling sloped and created a drastic point at its highest due to the roof, though it was plenty big enough to fully walk through. But the space was all taken up by her mother’s belongings and old things that Trammel felt didn’t need to be in the house proper anymore, lying just anywhere to be seen — things that her mother, Nancy or “Nance” as he called her, would’ve appreciated, but not he.

Neither of them went up there regularly, so moving her room there never became a thought. To Leota, it was a place that simply existed, like spots on the rest of the Duke property that she’d never personally visited. And if she did go up it was only to do a very direct task: put something there to be stored. But it existed, truly. It was very much its own space no different than the woods was a space, or the open field surrounding the home.

Lying in bed at night, she would listen for it. If sleep didn’t come easy, and sometimes it just didn’t, she found the other things that didn’t sleep, like the coyotes that sometimes came as close as the tree line. They would yap and scrabble together, making an echo through all of the branches. Crickets and frogs were the loudest, especially, and the quietest would be a stray moth fluttering itself across the window pane of her room. But sometimes, the noises came from above her room, in that little space where all of the things were kept. She would hear the faint scratch of wood on wood, as if someone stood from a chair but with no real conviction. It was different from Trammel wobbling his way down the hall for the toilet, the big man that he was. He couldn’t sneak anywhere if he tried. Or, sometimes, she would hear a soft hum. It was much less common, but it would be there: neither male, or female, or even human. It was more like a static whirring, but a muted one, bass-like and not unpleasant.

It tended to usher in dreams of her mother — sweet, soft dreams from old memories she always struggled not to forget — and so for that, she could never really dislike it.

---


She woke up the next day and dreaded how long it immediately promised to be. She loved her family as much as she was ever supposed to, truly, but since the twins’ sixth birthday two years before, it was as if a switch had flipped in both of them. They proved, time and time again, to be an unstoppable force of nature no different than a tornado — one of the more deadliest for the area, the type that came from the outer band of a specifically large hurricane that managed to hit north or south of Jasper and the Duke property. The twins were like the straggling storms. Between their mood swings that never seemed to coordinate together — Alls’ mood going up, Allie’s mood going down — and their inability to separate from each other for very long, despite being of opposite gender, the only logical thing to do was to let them both run themselves out until there was nothing left but the aftermath to pick up.

And it was all too quickly that they arrived. As promised, midday, Royce’s car came humbling up the long driveway to the house. He pulled off along the edge of the clearing — where the too tall, untamed grasses had been mowed down for the sake of spotting snakes before they reached too close to the house or laundry sheds — and parked out of the way, since his car would be stationary for the days that the men were off hunting up in Sumter. She’d just finished straightening the living room — a chore she didn’t know why needed to be done so soon to the twins arriving, but Trammel insisted — when the two little devils climbed out of the car, already arguing at the top of their lungs.

Trammel walked out to greet them, and so Leota reluctantly followed.

“Heard there’s a small spat of rain heading our way, so we better skirt out of here soon as we’re all set,” Royce said by way of greeting his brother. He smiled down at Leota after and gave her a chaste hug. “Hey, darling. Good to see you.”

Wyatt didn’t attempt to hug her and she wasn’t at all bothered by it. He was a few years older than she was, and it had simply become custom that their friendship died out the way all old childhood memories tended to — even for family. It’d been some time since the two of them ran around exploring all of the parts of the property that they could, between games of Hide-N-Seek or pretend. Used to be, they’d not slow down until the sun began to set, and would run around like ‘heathen’s for the entirety of the day. But those were days that neither of them would ever get back, and it’d been in her mind well enough to forget them and move on. And so they had, as junior high started and so on.

She afforded him a smile, and he gave her a “Cousin” as greeting.

Alls and Allie never quite made it to the gathering, and they cared not who they ignored in the process of it. As Trammel, Royce, and Wyatt began to pack down the back of Trammel’s truck with all of the gear they would need, Leota stood watching the twins. For the life of her, she couldn’t figure out what it was they were arguing about. And it became quickly apparent that neither did they, and all they knew was that one was yelling and so the other tried to yell louder.

Finally, and thankfully, Royce had enough of it to separate them. After a swift swat on the behind, he sent them both to the other side of the house to play out of his way and they seemed to mind well enough.

“You going to be able to handle it?” Royce asked her. The good-hearted man that he was, his smile couldn’t be chased away by anything, it seemed, and so she simply smiled back at him without reminding anyone that she didn’t have a choice in the matter. Trammel hadn’t exactly asked, as he never did.

In fact, the most her father said was, “Mind the house” as he piled up behind the wheel of his Ford. Wyatt climbed in the passenger side, sat himself in the middle of the seat, and was followed by Royce after he finished checking all of the gear.

“Yes, daddy,” she said.

“Leota, honey, you make them mind you,” Royce called, and then she watched them drive off. She stood at the front of the house, both feet on the old cinder block steps, and stared after them until the truck was well out of sight.

It was then, almost at the very instant that their father was gone, the twins started up their screaming again. What was it about children just thinking they could get away with murder as soon as their parents were away?, she thought. Never in all of her life had she ever acted that way, not even as a little girl.

“Give it back!” Allie shouted, and when Alls ran the opposite way with whatever she was after, she threw her head back and screamed at the top of her voice.

“Now there is going to be none of that!” Leota yelled at them. She marched off from the steps and found them around the side of the house: Allie standing with her little fists bunched outside of her body and Alls laughing all the while running away from her. “Alls! You stop picking at your sister!”

“It’s my toy!” Alls cried. He stopped short and faced Leota with the convictions of a mad man, holding the old toy up at chest level very much the way their preacher tended to hold his Holy Bible. It looked to be a little toy car, one of the muscle cars that, honestly, Leota couldn’t tell apart from any other. “She has her own cars! This one is mine!”

“Not uh!” Allie screamed. She ran to catch him, but Leota managed to put herself between them.

“Both of you, stop it!” Leota said. She looked between them, from one twin to the other — Allie’s eyes gleaming pink and wet and Alls quickly watering just to match. “Now you both need to behave, or I’ll be telling Uncle Royce what a headache you’ve both given me. I don’t want to hear anymore about this stupid little car. Do you understand me?”

But neither of them did. Allie rushed around her to chase Alls down, paying no mind, and he broke off at a dead sprint in the other direction to get away from her. Instead of hollering after them, Leota huffed and marched herself back inside where she told herself, with a certainty, that the twins wouldn’t be allowed in until it was time to wash up and eat supper.

And for the most part, as if under an unspoken agreement, they abided by that plan. Though they screamed and yelled and squealed at each other, the rest of the day passed without incident, and the nearest neighbor was so far away that she didn’t think they were bothering anyone but themselves, and maybe her. She did her best to ignore them, and finally, when the sky exploded into hot pinks and oranges, and those warm colors were being chased away by cool blues and purples, she called for them from the front door.

“I’m hungry!” they whined as they entered, and she instructed them to the bathroom for clean hands and faces.

They sat down and ate together, and for once the little house in the middle of the field wasn’t void of all life and sound — even if the twins complained more about the food and the amount of vegetables on their plates than anything. After dinner, she sent them one at a time to the tub for a full wash while she washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen, and when all was straightened in the house, she put down a pallet of extra blankets and sheets on the floor in the living room for them to share. She never went in Trammel’s room for any reason and she hadn’t planned on starting, and neither would the twins — not even for an empty bed. But they didn’t seem to mind the flatness of the floor. Both were tucked in up to their chins with their various favorite toys allowed next to them, and she told them both goodnight.

When Leota finally made it to her own room, she struggled to dress herself in her night clothes as fast as possible and fell into bed. Succumbing to sleep almost instantly, she was surprised to find herself waking up before the sun had risen. In fact, the light outside of her window looked very much the same as when she’d closed her eyes. She blinked a few times, and she heard the giggles and hushed whispers of the twins outside of her door, and learned very quickly the hard way of not to allow toys at bedtime anymore.

---


The next day, Leota experienced the most hectic breakfast she ever had. She didn’t know how it was possible, but somehow the twins awoke bright and early and seemingly fully rested before she did, so that by the time she emerged from her room, they were complaining about being hungry and bored again.

She quickly learned that Allie wasn’t a fan of eggs or oatmeal and Alls was lactose intolerant and therefore couldn’t have any dairy products. So together the three of them had a BLT, but the twins chose no lettuce or tomato on either of theirs.

Though it was the wet season, the sky was surprisingly clear and void of all dark gray clouds. The sun was allowed to come down on the earth, hot and heavy, and within an hour of being outside, the twins recoiled away to the shade of Trammel’s tool shed. They pushed their toy cars through the ruts in the dirt they created with their fingers. But that could only hold their interest for so long, as all things, so when they became so loud that Leota could no longer focus on any of her reading, she put away her book and lead them down the winding path behind the house that stretched across the field and cut into the woods.

“You’re not worried about snakes or nothing?” Alls asked when he noted her bare feet. He squinted up at her as they walked, he keeping pace alongside her and Allie a few steps ahead.

“No,” Leota said. “Why should I be?”

“’Cause they bite,” Allie said.

Alls cut in again. “You ever been snake bit?” he asked.

“No,” Leota answered. “Snakes aren’t going to bite me. I live here, and this is my property. They obey me.”

“Not uh!” Alls said.

“It’s Uncle Trammel’s property,” Allie corrected. She turned herself around on the path and set herself to walk backwards, one measured step at a time. Alls rushed forward and threatened to push her, but knowing he wouldn’t actually, he turned himself to mimic his twin’s steps and walked backwards too. They both watched Leota walk after them.

“I’m his daughter,” Leota said. “I think that makes it mine too.”

“Because you’ve got no other family and it’s just the two of you?” Alls asked.

“Yeah,” she said.

Eventually the pair of them got tired of dodging jutting tree roots or uneven ground to avoid tripping and turned about-face again. A second later, Allie hit Alls in the arm and sped off running down the trail.

“Race ya!” she yelled, and he immediately gave chase.

They had their top clothes off and strewn in every which direction on the creek bank by the time Leota caught up to them there. Together they splashed in the water, yelling at each other with a childishly giddy excitement as if they’d never been swimming before. It seemed to be their only voices for each other, for whatever reason, as if the other was deaf. People always talked about the notion of ‘twin speak’, which Leota took to mean some foreign language that only twins seemed to know, and screaming and yelling just seemed to be Allie’s and Alls’ way of communicating, good or bad.

They called and hooted for her to jump in with them, but she ultimately decided not to. She took station at the base of an old tree and watched from her perch there. She loved to swim and it was more than hot enough for it, oh to be sure, but she knew her enjoyment of it wouldn’t compare to what they got out of it — the twins, with their silly games. She didn’t want to play Alligator and terrorize their toes just so they could kick and flail about in the water like mad people. It was all she’d be good for with them, anyway.

No, if she were going to slip into the creek, it would be naked and alone. Which, that wasn’t unusual for her to do on the rare occasion that she had the time. If she thought she could get away with it, in fact, at least once a week after school, she would run down to the water bank and jump in as naked as the day she was born. She could swim for hours that way or float on her back and let the current carry her far enough away from her clothes that she’d have to swim back with some effort — and love every moment of it. The birds kept her company, then, and she didn’t mind not having another human to speak to. Sometimes all that talking messed with her, anyway, and she was always afraid of saying the wrong things to the wrong people, so being in solitude was more comfortable.

And sometimes, Leota just felt like the earth itself was there with her. It was strange to think that no one else thought the way she did, or felt that way. But by watching the twins, too immersed in themselves and each other to notice anything else, she could tell they didn’t. Trammel didn’t. Often times, she didn’t think Trammel connected with anything except his mouth to a bottle’s. How she ended up being his daughter, of all people, she was at a complete loss over.

She felt more related to the live oak under her bottom than she did with any of the people she called kin, even sweet and timid Royce or Wyatt. So as the twins played, she sat on the bank burying her toes in the clumping dirt underneath her feet. She let the ants crawl on her calves and so long as they didn’t bite her, she didn’t brush them off and disorient them. There wasn’t a point in causing a fuss with nature if nature wasn’t going to cause a fuss with her. The most any of the nature did was frizz her long, blonde hair up from all of the humidity, and even that she didn’t mind, because she sat braiding it all back down anyway.

Finally, the twins decided to abandon their swim when a little water snake came along and interrupted. As it turned out, snakes didn’t obey Leota at all — owner of the property or not — and so they redressed themselves and took the slow walk back up to the Duke house at their own leisure, for none of them really had anything pressing to return to. But it was that thinking that got them caught in the middle of a rain, and because one could never be too careful with spontaneous summer storms, they all ran the rest of the way to the safety of a roof.

They spent the remainder of the day playing indoors and arguing about taking their showers. Leota had hers first, as was the right of the eldest and the authority, but the twins weren’t as keen about ‘clean and pretty toes’ and insisted that they had been washed thoroughly by the creek. At last, she conceded, but only because she needed the hot water to wash the dishes after supper — and she made sure they knew as much, too. And so they ate, and dressed for bed, and when Leota could no longer stand their squealing, she retired to her room and closed herself in.

Sleep wasn’t as easy to find as the previous night, and when she finally fell into it, she had dreams of her mother’s beautiful face — or what she could remember of it — and snake heads emerging from her eye sockets. They flicked their forked tongues over Nance’s cheek and reared their heads to look Leota dead in the eye. And just when she thought they would strike her, she jumped as if she’d been falling and woke herself with a start.

---


On the last day, the twins slept in. At first, she thought it was good fortune, for as they slept, she was able to sit at the mirror in her room as long as she like and take her time brushing through her hair until it was — for the most part — perfectly straight. And because they still hadn’t woken up, she took the time to plait and weave a thin braid until she was satisfied with the prettiness of her reflection.

It was eventually the crispy smell of fried bacon that drew them up out of their makeshift bed. From the day before, she knew the way they liked their sandwiches, and so she readied their breads for them and the three ate in silence: Leota with a new appreciation for it and the twins rubbing their eyes and yawning through it.

It only lasted so long.

With food in their bellies and suddenly an infinite amount of energy to burn, the twins whipped and screamed their way around the house until Leota put them outside and demanded they stay there for the duration of the day or at least until she thought their fathers would be returning. What had taken hours the night before to suss and clean up had been destroyed in literal minutes by a pair of bickering hooligans. Before she could stop it from crossing her mind, she thought, This is why Aunt Jo went away. It wasn’t that she was doing things with other men, it was that she just needed a break from those two. Leota felt bad for thinking it, instantly, and apologized to the air around her as if whoever she had offended would hear it. To keep her from thinking anything else out of line or just downright rude, she immersed herself completely in the work of straightening up, for the men were supposed to be coming back in from Sumter sometime that day.

She gathered the blankets of the pallet from the living room floor and piled them to one side to properly sweep — as the house had no carpeting whatsoever, and therefore they didn’t own a vacuum sweeper. She finished the kitchen as it needed to be done, the little left of it anyway, and then moved into the bathroom. She piled the twins’ old clothes together with the blankets and really spent her time wiping down all of the crevices of the bathroom, especially around the toilet and tub.

It wasn’t all their fault, the way they acted. She had been their age, or a little younger, when she lost her mother and she knew that some people just dealt with things differently than others — same as how people saw the world differently and felt things differently. Now they were without theirs and who knew really what their relationship was like with their father, besides those of that immediately family. Maybe they would grow out of it, or grow into themselves. Maybe it was just a matter of discipline. Really, she should’ve been calling them both to help her haul the dirty blankets and clothes outside to the laundry shed the way she’d been called to pick up the chores. Eventually, all children needed to step up and help maintain the household. But, maybe, she’d been hard on them enough.

Leota dumped the pile of laundry next to the washboard bucket, pulled up her stool, and sat down. But then she noticed the most curious thing: silence. Neither of the twins were screaming and running, or arguing and throwing things. She turned on the stool to look and make sure, but no, they weren’t there — not in sight, or by sound.

“Alls!” she called, but received no answer. “Allie?!”

If it had been silent for very long, she told herself, she surely would’ve noticed. Wouldn’t she? It couldn’t have been so long that they went very far. She stood from her stool and moved out into the open, away from the shed, and searched the expanse of the field in full. Though the grass weeds grew high and unruly, they weren’t so much that the twins could’ve hid very well in them without absolute stillness, and since when were the twins able to be still except when they were sleeping?

“Allie!” Leota called out.

No answer.

She retraced her steps back around the side of the house and paused at the front to do a thorough scan again. Either they were playing a game on her, or they’d finally killed each other. As loudly as she hollered, there was just no way they were ‘innocently’ out of range.

She marched through the front door and stood a little beyond the threshold, deep enough in the living room that her voice carried the entire house and then some. “Now you both better come out here right now and stop playing around! I mean it!” But if they were threatened by the command in anyway, they didn’t show themselves for it or make any anxious noises to give away their location.

They couldn’t be outside anymore, she thought. They just couldn’t. The land was so flat from the house for such a long way that she would’ve seen them. Lattice had been nailed up around the bottom of the house years ago to let the belly breathe and have all of the ventilation it needed, but was specifically just the right size to prevent critters from crawling underneath, so there was no way they could’ve gotten down there. And the laundry shed had been where she started the search — if they’d been there at the back of the house in any of the little hidey-holes or corners there, she would’ve seen them right away. So Leota started the search through the house by checking under the dining table, in the cabinets, and behind doors — even Trammel’s.

A thunderous thud rattled the floor above her head, stopping her search mid-way between the bathroom and her room. It had been so unexpected that for the longest moment, she could only stand there, stare upward, and listen for any accompanying tell-tales, but there weren’t any to follow.

Maybe one of the twins had fallen hard off something. It didn’t make any sense as to why the other wasn’t screaming for help, but the only thing that could’ve made a hit that heavy was a body or something very akin to it.

“Alls?!” she panicked. That’d be just what she needed, a broken child that’d been in her care for not even a full week. She ran to the base of the stairs and looked into the abyss above. “Are you alright?!”

When they didn’t answer still, Leota started the climb for the top of the stairs. The second floor opened to a hall of sorts that stretched to the edge of the house down one side and came to a room with a door on the other. It was lit only by the single window at the far open side, but because of how narrow the hall was, she could see easily enough. Furniture of all types hugged what parts of the walls they could, as the heavy pieces just didn’t have a place anywhere else, but she didn’t see hide nor hair of either of the twins.

She did, however, see the door sat slightly opened.

“Allie?” she asked it. Her voice softened substantially given how tight the space was and how big she suddenly felt in it, trying to navigate her way to the one room — the one that sat directly above hers below. “Allie, you know you aren’t supposed to be in here. Y’all come on out now, alright?”

Only silence met her, until she pushed the door open wider. The hinges protested in such a screeching way that she momentarily hesitated, but had to finish opening it to be able to move over the threshold.

The room itself was much bigger than her own downstairs, what with no bathroom to butt up against it and fight for space with, but the vaulted ceiling and the sharp downward slopes of the room made it feel overwhelmingly tight and claustrophobic.

It didn’t help that so many physical things actually filled the room. A bed frame and mattress, stripped bare of all cloth and thread, took up one side, boasting boxes and heaps of clutter strewn all across it, and what couldn’t fit filled out all of the space underneath it. An old mahogany vanity table rivaled it on the opposite side. A giant mirror perched on top in the shape of an oval, just like her face, but the only thing to be seen in it was the dusty reflection of a stranger.

She had wanted that vanity so badly for herself, but Trammel refused to bring it down to her room. Too much trouble, he said, and he suggested very sternly that she never bring it up again. And so she didn’t. It hadn’t been the only thing she’d wanted of her mother’s, so she compromised for a few pieces of clothes, an ornate hairpin, and the little jewelry box that went along with the vanity, but could be easily moved around by her very self with no need to involve anyone else.

Where she stood in the room, her eyes searched out the places where other furniture had been when her mother occupied the room proper. She remembered peeking in quite a bit as a little girl, standing at the crack in the door with her nose poked against it to best see, her little feet turned inward toward each other. If Trammel wasn’t home, she’d try her best to make discrete little noises and, timidly, give herself away. Even when she didn’t, one way or another, her mother always seemed to know when she was there.

What a beautiful woman she had been, too, but as a child, Leota best remembered her hair. Long and blonde, very much as Leota’s turned out to be, it had been her fascination. When her presence had been made known and her mother beckoned her in, after all of the many kisses to her face, she would get to play with it. Nance would sit at her vanity and Leota would stand behind her, trailing her fingers over her hair as if it she were tuning the finest of all instruments, and then she would lovingly brush through it until it was flawlessly straight.

But the visits all ended the same way. Leota, knowing no better at all, asked her mother every day, “Come outside with me, Mama.”

“I can’t, baby,” Nance would say. “Mama’s not feeling well enough to go outside.”

“But can’t you try?” she asked.

“Not today,” Nance said. “Now go on, before your daddy comes back. Be a good girl for mama, okay? Do you hear me, Leota?”

“Yes, Mama,” she said, because every time she did, she received no less than three little kisses on the very tip of her nose.

Eventually, the visits stopped. It seemed as though no matter her luck, no matter the day, even when she thought him to be long gone from the property entirely, Trammel would catch her at the bottom of the stairs and send her the other way with no real reason as to why. “Go on,” he said. “Not today. Your mother needs her rest, so go on.” And so she really didn’t know what to tell people when they asked her at church or at school how her mama was doing except that she was tired a lot, and that she stayed in the room upstairs.

“She always favored that one,” they said, and thought no more of it.

It became the routine for everyone around, until one day, after school, Leota came home to find Trammel in the front room surrounded by Royce and his family. With his shoulders hunched, he seemed to be trying to take up as much space as he possibly could.

“Leota, I need to tell you something. Sit down,” he said. She did and she listened to every word very carefully, because his voice hadn’t lost a single bit of edge to it. It didn’t tremble, waver, or even threaten to do so where everyone else’s had. She heard it in their little sighs and caught breaths, and she knew what he was going to say before he said it. He looked her in her young face and said it anyway, “Your mama passed away today.”

“Where is she?” she asked.

“She’s gone.”

“But can’t I see her?”

Fortunately, the local undertaker hadn’t made it to the Duke house yet. Unfortunately, unable to hold herself together, she’d already started crying before even making it to the bottom of the stairs. So when she was ushered into the room and to the side of the bed where her mother had taken her final rest, she could only retain the blurry wetness of the whole ordeal.

The room had felt so much warmer, then, and it hadn’t smelt of wood rot and mold. And though more objects clustered together to take up all of the room, it seemed so much more hollow than when it had really been her mother’s. She supposed all places like it did. But its emptiness told her well enough that the twins weren’t in the room, even though she noticed the vanity stool sprawled on the floor and old curtains that had been sitting on top of it toppled next to it. She bent and righted it in its place, and it sat on the floor with a weighted thump. Something the size of it and as heavy, as it was real wood, could have definitely been the culprit of that god awful noise.

The door slammed behind her, hinges screaming. It rattled the walls and jarred her so badly, she nearly fell when she spun around to meet it with her wide eyes. The space was empty, so it must’ve come from the other side — a conclusion she came to in the split second it took for her to run at the door.

“Hey!” she yelled. She twisted the knob and pushed, and though it wasn’t locked, the door only rattled and didn’t budge at all. “Let me out!”

Both hands hit the surface of the door hard — thap! — slapping against the wood as fast as they could. “Let me out now! Alls! Allie!”

Through the ruckus, an unmistakable creak echoed as if the hinges were forced to open again, but it came from behind her off the bed. It sounded like someone or something stood up from the mattress, but when she turned her head to look, nothing was there and nothing had been there. There couldn't be anything there, because her mother had been buried in the earth at the end of her life, the way that it was always supposed to be. But she heard it. She knew she heard it, as clear as she heard the humming sometimes at night — as clear as she heard the furniture shifting sometimes as if on its own, because it wasn’t no animal. There weren’t any animals up there, make no mistake. The only thing existing there were the things that couldn’t be seen — the things that existed in the woods sometimes too.

Grabbing the knob, she rammed her shoulder into the door and threw her weight behind it. Anything to get out of that room — anything to be free of the rot smell. The door rattled in its cradle, giving maybe an inch but no more.

“Let me out!” Her voice went shrill, to tones she’d never heard in another human being ever before, especially not herself. It wasn’t at all like the mad, hushed giggles of the eight year olds on the other side of the door — the sound of which came as no relief because still and all she was trapped inside. “Now! Let me out now!”

She turned to the room, averted her eyes from the bed — from absolutely anything but her destination — and snatched up the heavy stool by the seat. Turning back for the door, she aimed the stout chair legs at its surface and shoved.

The chair legs broke through, but without ever splintering any of the wood. And before she knew it, Leota was falling — falling and tripping and running through the very door that had refused to cave. In the blink of an eye, she stood on the opposite side of the still closed door, stool in both hands. She faced two staring faces of the twins, their plump mouths gaping with horror, the door, and a chair they’d used to butt up against the door to keep it closed.

It’d never opened.

Allie’s eyes welled tremendously fast with tears at the very same instant that she started screaming. She ran away from the chair, the door, and Leota, to bolt down the stairs with Alls right on her heels, screaming in a way that was almost perfect to her pitch.

The stool fell out of Leota’s hands and hit the floor, rattled it, rolled once, and came to a stop a foot away from her. How had she gotten on the other side of the door without ever opening it? How was such a thing even possible? Had it really happened?

She could still hear the twins’ screaming voices, even though they’d ran outside.
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Vamane » October 19th, 2015, 12:08 am

Jezebel No. 2 heard Coca-Cola was good for removing blood. She was bent over the kitchen sink, long bleach-blonde hair under the faucet head. It was 10 a.m. and the blood was almost out, something she'd call part of a productive morning. Jezebel No. 1 was still on the kitchen floor, her long pale legs coated in blood. She had on a pair of black underwear and a white thin strap tank top, which had curled up at the fat of her stomach. She had a steak knife down her throat, which obscenely stuck out from the side of the neck. The tiled floor pooled in blood. Jezebel No. 2 wondered if Coca-Cola could get out blood stains off tile, and carpet, and cotton, and paneling. The mess was widespread across the house. She'd need more Coke.

Jezebel No. 2 remembered when she met Jezebel No. 1. They were 5-years-old and saw each other in the tall mirror of Grandma's house out in Queens.

"I'm gonna kill you, and I'ma kill you bad," Jezebel No. 2 said.

Jezebel No. 1 had smiled, and spun around in front of the mirror, their Mama's fake pearls around her neck, and little body dressed in a large, pink skirted church dress.

They met again over the years, but most often in her teens. Jezebel No. 1 liked to stand in front of the mirror, hands squeezing her stomach, or thighs, or breasts, or cheeks, inspecting, always inspecting, her growing self.

"I'm going to kill you, and I'm going to make it hurt," Jezebel No. 2 said.

Jezebel No. 1 frowned, and turned in the mirror. Her bra was too small. Her underwear was too tight. Nothing fit Jezebel No. 2 hated her for it.

Jezebel No. 2 sat her knees in the blood pooling around Jezebel No. 1.

"I killed you. I killed you dead," Jezebel said.

She wasn't No. 2 anymore. She wasn't a reflection of Jezebel No. 1. She wasn't her shadow. She had a body, and a form, and couldn't shift and change how she saw fit. She had already peeled off Jezebel's No. 1's scalp and hair. It looked much better on her anyway; she'd appreciate it more. She would have to skin and peel of Jezebel No. 1's skin now, at least on her arms and her shoulders. Her breasts were too small for her tastes. She didn't like her stomach, either, or her ass. No, Jezebel knew there were other people out there, girls with much better assets. She'd have to go to the grocery soon. Jezebel would need to stock a freezer full of Coke. At least now she knew how to use it.
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby khronic » October 19th, 2015, 3:37 am

Hopefully you accept this! I know its 30 minutes late, but my computer froze up TT.TT I wrote it days ago for this contest and I can prove it if need be <3 If not, its all good and I hope you enjoy the writing anyways!

*************

Along time ago someone told me that the fantasy will always be better than the reality. They’d told me like they were telling me the secrets to the universe, in a sense I guess they were.

I believed him because he was my God, and so of course his word was law. Idol worship was a sin that I was eager to commit. I like to think that blindly following a man with unusual facial hair runs in my blood. Ha, get it? That’s a joke because I’m German.
I like to think making jokes in poor taste also runs in my blood.

I liked to watch him like a child liked to watch the sun. It’s a stupid thing to do and you’re only hurting yourself, but it’s fun to try and win a staring contest with the cosmos. Spoiler: You can’t win a staring contest with the cosmos. I think I knew that at the time, but my appetite was insatiable. GLUTTONY. I was obsessed with him. Him, his family, and the whole little empire they had built for themselves. It made my mouth water. I always thought that maybe if I tried just a little bit harder I would be able to duct tape myself to their dynamic. So stupid.

I was ENVIOUS of everything they had; a commune and a cult leader all wrapped up in a neat little package. They were gift wrapped and God awful, all tied up with a pretty little bow. I wanted it so much I was making myself sick. Jealousy is a dangerous thing because it makes people act desperate. Desperation is breeding ground for weakness. I was burning myself out on this fixation.

I don’t know if it was LUST, but it might as well have been. I thought I wanted so many parts of them that I started to question attraction. I forgot that you can love the sound of music or the smell of gasoline without setting a piano on fire. It all started to feel like the same damn thing. It was all static and electricity, heat lightning in July. Maybe it was lust all along, but crucify me for falling for that smile made for a fist fight.

I think the worst part is, I did it to myself. This was a self inflicted kind of torture. I could have walked away at any time, but that would risk injury to my ego. There was so much PRIDE in the game. The challenge of trying to paint my face in someone else’s blood to blend in with the monsters. I like to think that I was so close, that I would have gotten away with it too, if it were for those meddling kids. Did you catch that reference? I’m hilarious.

The truth is, I was probably never going to get what I wanted. Logically speaking, it would have been impossible. See, Pride has an ugly step sister named GREED. As long as you’re greedy, you’ll never be satisfied. You keep wanting more and more until there’s nothing left to want. You become this all consuming, black hole of a person and before you know it, you’ve swallowed up the galaxy without ever seeing the stars. Every time you think you’ve conquered a kingdom you turn it into a sandstorm.

You can make yourself crazy with that type of appetite. You start to lash out, to blame people for what you’re fucking doing to yourself. WRATH is such an irrational thing to feel when the only person to blame is you. It’s almost comical how angry I became. Angry at him, angry at her, angry at the whole damn system. Hell, I started going out and meeting people just so that I could be angry at them too. Predictably, I didn’t feel any better. I just felt empty.

SLOTH isn’t so much a thing you do as much as it’s choosing to abstain from doing things. It’s the literal cease of motion and desire to progress. I kinda like to think that death and sloth go hand in hand in a way. I mean, they both work to effectively make you do much less. I think the final stage of my devotion was the total and complete cease in motion. Insert quote here about obsession and it probably killing you in the end. Blah, blah, blah.

People like to talk about death like it’s this magical release or some incredible journey into the spirit realm. In fact, people like to romanticize a lot of things: death, obsession, religion, romance, people. It’s all basically different shades of bullshit. Nothing is ever going to be as good as you think it’ll be. That sandwich you just made won’t taste as fantastic as you think it’ll taste. That guy’s not gonna be that great in bed, and yeah, you’re going to regret the $50 you just spent on that t-shirt as soon as you get home and see how glaringly mediocre it is. That’s just life. You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.

I mean, I understand all of that now. Retrospect is one hell of a bitch. I probably would have saved myself a shit ton of trouble if I had listened a little closer when someone told me that the fantasy will always be better than the reality.

-Felix A.
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Marlo » October 19th, 2015, 9:00 am

This contest is officially closed and any entries posted after THIS post, will not count.

Thank you, everyone, for your entries! We should have the results within the week!


xoxo

Aimee
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Marlo » October 19th, 2015, 5:47 pm

The winners are…




FIRST PLACE
    Jamie (Jaida)


SECOND PLACE
    Tex (Church)


THIRD PLACE
    Jason (Vamane)





Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Horror Writing Contest! Your graphic prizes will be delivered to you based on whatever time is worked out between yourself and the artists!
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Delta » October 19th, 2015, 7:25 pm

WOOOOOO! CONGRATS GUYS! :3
.:Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without:.
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.:And know we cannot live within:.

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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Jaida » October 20th, 2015, 12:09 am

Yaaaaay!!! Thank you so much for the opportunity to participate! It's been a long time since I've actually had that much fun writing anything and I'm glad I got to share it and also read the other contributions. They were AMAZING! Seriously. I enjoyed all of them in my own special (as ophelia would say) non-creepy way.
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Vamane » August 27th, 2016, 5:01 pm

Are we going to do another one of these for this year?
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby Sam » August 30th, 2016, 12:29 pm

Vamane wrote:Are we going to do another one of these for this year?


If there's interest, I would love to help host one! :)
t h i s ˙ i s ˙ a ˙ r e v i v a l Image h o u s e ˙ o f ˙ d e m a r c h i s
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Re: October 2015 Horror Writing Contest Entries

Postby ophelia » August 30th, 2016, 1:11 pm

I'd look forward to seeing this happen again!!
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