Dark and Horror

Bearing Witness

Fran wished there was more to the stories of poltergeists, if she had to be not-quite-dead-enough. No moving of objects or whispering of threats for her. Richards might feel her touch, but she had tried only once. He had looked up with a grin splitting his face, revelling in her powerlessness, and finished strangling his next victim.

A lock of the boy’s hair had gone into an old paint can and up on a shelf right under the low ceiling of Richards’ shack. He was not the last.

Turning her attention inward hardly shielded her from those scenes; her sight and hearing were not bound to eyes and ears anymore, and she could feel the fear and pain running through her like a current. She did not even have the solace of company in this prison. Judging from Richards’ occasional bows and thank-yous to the “loge of spectators”, there were indeed several ghosts, but Fran found no way for them to communicate.

All she had was a vague sense of their presence, which might have been her imagination. That, and what Richards called his shows, which, death by death, chipped away at her sanity.

Inspired by the prompts "Invisible witnesses" and "Crimes against ghosts and spectres" by Tango

tagged Fantasy Elves Contemporary Fantasy

Rewriting History

“Thank you for seeing me.” Oneida bowed to Talaeshin, knowing that elves shunned skin-to-skin contact.

The foremost expert on orc history being an elf was unsurprising. Their long lifespans had made elves lore-keepers long before there had been historians. This one answered in a tone of cool disinterest, “Yes. You were very persistent.”

“This is important. May I…?” She waved a folder into the room and after getting a nod of permission slid past a big box standing partly in the was to the nearly empty desk. On it she laid out notes and photos of old human bones taken on site of an archaeological dig.

While she worked, Talaeshin said, “Few people treat matters of an extinct species as urgent.”

“History is important,” she answered without thinking. “And I wonder if history is wrong. These photos—”

“And wherever did you get those?”

“The dig at Crane Mountain, where they wanted to build a new hotel,” Oneida evaded, “but the important thing is that that there were toothmarks on those bones much too narrow for orcs, no matter what the press spreads already. Someone else needs to review this, of course, but if it’s true, it’s a strong argument for examining remains from older sites.”

Nodding, Talaeshin said, “No respect for the rest of the dead.” He raised his hand to forestall Oneida’s protest and continued, “Do you have any speculations what creature left these toothmarks?”

Forcing herself to not shrink back, she said, “One set at least is definitely elven. It seems… interesting.”


“No? But don’t you see—”

“You fail to see, naturally, that this is not news.” Talaeshin’s tone grew sharper. “History is what we allow to be written down, and this we won’t.”

He made a sharp downwards gesture and Oneida found herself mute and rooted to the spot. She had never believed the stories about elves wielding magic. She thought she should panic, but her heartbeat was slowing down.

“You are right. Orcs were, in fact, mostly herbivorous.” He laid a hand on her shoulder and lowered his face to hers, smiling. “I, on the other hand, have inherited a recipe from my grandmother I would love to try on you.”

Based on the prompt "What if elves were actually horrible, and orcs were decent, but the elves have better PR so they've just managed to convince people of the opposite? " by Elizabeth Barette aka ysabetwordsmith

tagged Fantasy

That Which Hides In Light And Song

The candle lantern was a heirloom that woke bittersweet memories. It had belonged to Kat’s grandmother, whom she loved. The loss still hurt, after all those years, but this little memento helped her remember the good times.

Kat would light a beeswax candle, its light still warmer through the yellow glass, its honey-fragrance mixing with the smell of hot metal and taking her back to evenings spent listening to her grandmother’s stories.

She would sometimes nod off. It was those occasions upon which the spirit of the lamp entered her open mind, mining for memories of lullabies and embraces.

The spirit brought them forth into Kat’s dreaming mind, rebuilding a shadow of the utter safety she had felt as a child.

It kept her seeking the lantern out for company, more when she was in need of support, vulnerable. Singing old songs no-one else would hear, the spirit took wisps of Kat’s life for itself, feeding its own essence. Knowing there was a risk the lamp would disappear in an attic or worse, it resolved to be careful, make her last, but she tasted so, so sweet.

The title was a prompt by Tango


Shobha Kaur enjoyed the view out of the window of the sparsely furnished office she was a “guest” in, while her “host” prattled on. Outside looked darker than it should be — some foil applied to the glass maybe — but since she did not think she would get out again, she might as well.

“Doctor Kaur, are you listening?”

She made an apologetic noise and turned to the bureaucrat.

The other woman’s skin was pale, almost grey; her hand when she greeted Shobha had been cold. Vampires not hiding themselves anymore was one of the recent developments.

“Well, then let me sum up,” she said with a sigh. “Our organisation is very grateful for your part in lobbying for vampire and lycanthrope rights, and would like to thank you with a grand gesture. Even if the ‘until they’re healed’ codicils were not all that popular.”

Her chipper tone grated on Shobha’s nerves. If Shobha could go back in time, she’d rather shoot herself than let her spread those ideas.

The vampire continued, “Your choice now: would you rather turn into a vampire, or a werewolf?”

A bloodthirsty monster either way. “I’d rather die.”

“That, my dear, is part of the process.”

Based on the prompt "A human key to allowing werewolves, vampires, and other fantasy monster types to go public is 'rewarded' after they go from hiding, to being in the open, to seizing control." by LilFluff

tagged Animals

Designer Virus

Ignoring her aching muscles, Janissa dragged the cowed suit across the yard of the experimental farm by his revers. It had taken a lot of self-control to not shoot him in the face. For what needed to be done, her shotgun wasn’t enough. She wasn’t even aware she was muttering strings of curses punctuated with repetitions of “deliberately”.

“None of the tests suggested any danger,” the guy whined. “There must have been a mutation.”

“Or maybe rats are not humans! Don’t give me your stupid excuses. Where can we get gasoline here?”
His eyes went even wider. “Look, I’m all for terminating the experiment and destroying the enhancement—”

“Virus!” Janissa snapped. “Stop the propaganda-speech.”

“Virus, but an uncontrolled fire might do more harm than good.”

“And risk monsters running wild?”

“Ah, well…”

Janissa stopped and faced him, narrowing her eyes at his tone. “What?”

“You may have a point about humans being different. They seem to be the only species that goes all, you know… bloodthirsty. The cattle just gets slow and apathetic.”

“That I want to see. And you go in first.” She emphasised her point by tipping her shotgun in his general direction.

He nodded to that happily enough, and led Janissa into the barn.

She followed wearily, fearing a trap even though her gut feeling said he wasn’t up to setting one. All she saw were cows standing where they belonged, placidly. As the guy stood aside, she had a look at the nearest animal. Janissa had no direct experience with cows, but she didn’t think its nose should be grey and cracking. Was it even breathing?

Her drafted guide had calmed down and actually answered her muttered “What the hell were they thinking?”

“The… virus slows down the metabolism, particularly in the extremities, but affects the digestion and milk production hardly at all. The result is more milk per pound of fodder, and besides, they are sluggish and less… prone… to…” He would down and swallowed in the face of Janissa’s glare.

“So everyone in my neighbourhood who wasn’t lactose intolerant turned into a zombie to maximise your profits.” After a beat she added, “Go away before I shoot you.”

Based on the prompt "Undead cattle" by Mayfly


Elke was not surprised when she spotted Regina at the flea market, only that Regina already seemed to be on the way out, a wooden box with brass fitting wedged under her arm and a self-satisfied smile spread across her face.

“Am I that late? You found something already?”

“Oh yes, I got lucky.” Regina looked Elke up and down. “If you just arrived, how about we meet next weekend?” Usually they went to have tea together if they found each other at a flea market, to show off whatever they had found. “There’s at least one stand with books that might interest you. And this will look better with a bit of polish.”

“All right.” Elke thought it unusual for Regina to not launch into a monologue about her purchase, but if the other woman wanted to make it a big surprise, why not?

tagged Animals Insects & Spiders

Skin Problems

Joan liked the feeling of insects crawling over her skin.

tagged Families

Family Values

Janine and Fred had a nice dinner at home together. It was still nothing as happy as, say, a year ago, but they were healing. The conversation was carefully edging towards family planning, when the children appeared in the garden.

"I'll lock the door." Janine spoke and moved automatically, not pausing to be horrified.

When she came back, Fred stood with the back to the window front, blinds drawn, staring at the sofa.

Lilly, who would have turned nine in three months, sat there, holding the hand of her little brother. She turned to look at her mother. Her face was dark, rotting. Light glittered in her left eyesocket, reflecting off the carapace of a carrion beetle.

"You cannot exclude us. We're part of the family."

Janine choked. This can't be real. Nightmare.

"You left us," Jimmy. His body was pale and bloated, his voice even fainter than in life, and he had always sounded shy. "That was bad."

There was distant thunder outside as Lilly told him, "Don't worry. We won't be alone anymore."

She smiled first at her mother, then at her father. He twitched and threw back the blinds to flee, only to find the glass door darkened with soil.

Lilly said, "We're family. We will always stick together."

Down a wrong path

The thought that she should feel just sick, not sickly fascinated, crossed Bea's mind. Maybe it was just too odd. She tried to form cogent questions as she turned to Miriam, who smiled and fidgeted, watching her. Nervous, but enthusiastic, hoping a friend was as excited about something as she was?

"So. How did you arrive at this idea?" Bea asked.

"It it all about souls, you see? I decided that the best way to get into that field of research was through shadows. Demons, soulless by nature, have no shadows, humans turned vampires lose theirs along with their souls, and the ghosts of the dead are nothing but shadows in this world - clearly there is a link."

Bea nodded; the idea was not exactly new.

"Unfortunately I couldn't find a cooperative demon, vampire, or ghost to examine, and neither do I have the means to catch and restrain an uncoorperative one. The solution to that dilemma would be removing the soul of a human to monitor the changes this causes, and possibly examine the soul directly. Since the shadow is lost when the soul is, it is only logical that if you remove the shadow, so is the soul." Having gotten out some of her thoughts, Miriam was obviously calmer. She also gave Bea some time to digest this.

Bea could follow the logic, even if something was missing there. Without quite willing to, she turned to look at the closest flabby shape hung on the wall. "Those aren't shadows, though."

"Well, no. After some false starts and much thinking, my reasoning was that the shadow must be fixed in some way to the body. The point of affixion is fluid, of course, but if the surface it attaches to is removed, it should be separated from the body."

"So you started skinning people." As soon as she said it, Bea wondered if that plain statement hadn't been too much of a provocation.

"Yes." Miriam smiled a bit wider, encouraged because her friend followed her ideas, but started frowning immediately after. "I need to refine the process, though. It kills the test subjects too quickly, and naturally the soul flees, making examination impossible."

Bea nodded thoughtfully. "You did consider that, too, though, didn't you?"

"The soul flees the body upon death, so removing the soul from the body causes death. It is the same logic you applied to vampirism."

Miriam fell silent, gradually looking more and more distressed. "That would be a disaster. Years of work for nothing. But you're right, I need to consider that carefully before proceeding."

"Maybe you could seek contact with someone researching vampirism? How their losing their soul is different from normal death?"

"Yes, yes, maybe..." Miriam finally ushered Bea out of the room, very distracted by that new thought. Back in the more mundane part of the house, she pulled herself together. "Thank you for your help. Even if this might shoot my work down, I'm glad I let you in on this. Get too caught up in details..."

Bea smiled. "I think I should leave you to think it over for a while. We can meet again in a few days, if you'd like." She would have liked to asked who those people had been before they became test subjects. She would have liked to tell her old friend that she'd gone mad. But with that in mind, she kept quiet. Her next stop would have to be the authorities.

Zoned Out

For a short time, Mark's parents wondered if he was taking drugs, since he'd started to zone out a lot. They dismissed it, mainly since he spent most of his time at home, and concluded that he was just lazy. "You're grounded!" had lost its power, but they gave him frequent lectures based on, "All you do is eat and sleep".

They died in the night, once the alien parasite finished eating Mark up from the inside.

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