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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest (12) - Theme: Halloween

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Oct 24, 2007.

    Short Story
    Contest
    12 Theme: Halloween​

    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries in this thread. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a seperate thread. Sadly there are no prizes but honour on offer. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner.

    Theme: Halloween (courtesy of me): 'Tis the season to be scary so get to it. You could write about the holiday, a particular Halloween of yours fictional or otherwise, straight horror, ghosts and ghouls etc.

    Required Length: 800 - 3500 words.
    Deadline for entries: 7th Novemeber 2007 18.00 (Uk local)


    There is a ten percent leniency above and below the upper and lower word limits, respectively. Please try to stick within these limits I would hate for your pieces not to qualify.

    Try to make your story be complete and have an end rather than be an excerpt from a larger one.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    Thanks and good luck.
     
  2. wordweaver
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    wordweaver Member

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    Poop! I have a ghost story I wrote last year... but it's not long enough! *cries* :(

    Add: 10% leniency?! Would my story at 589 words make it?! ;) Does the weekly contests ever come under 800?
     
  3. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    10% leniency would equal 720 words on the lower band - complete stories are hard to write with a small word limit but we will try next contest for a smaller limit and see whether that is popular. Try to expand on 529 words to get to at least 720 - it might be nice to revisit an old piece. Hope to see your entry.
     
  4. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    yea, i think i am going to try and enter this one. i aint wrote in ages so it would make a change. jsut need to give me a few days to get it wrote. :p :D
    Heather
     
  5. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    ok, so it is the first time i have wrote in weeks so it aint up to much but here goes nothing.



    The First Night (1290 words)

    I remember the first time I encountered a vampire like it was just yesterday. It was from that moment I knew I was bound to spend the rest of my life searching after the legends, wishing more than anything to find something to prove I was right, that I wasn’t wrong. Let me start from the beginning so that you really understand what happened.

    Normally Halloween didn’t bother me. Everyone else would make such a huge deal about it, getting dressed up and going trick or treating but that hadn’t interested me since I was seven. Now, at the age of fifteen, I was slightly surprised when my mate, Becci, asked if I was going to come out on Halloween. After a bit of persuading and plan making we eventually agreed that we would go out, get dressed up and have a drink. So, one week later, I was dancing around my bedroom getting ready to go out on Halloween.

    As music blared from the radio I struggled to apply mascara as my bottom bounced to the beat. Several minutes later I took a step back from the mirror to examine my reflection. Blue eyes framed with kohl and silvery grey eye shadow, slightly rouged cheeks and Vaseline coated lips – perfect. My hair hung down over my shoulders, twisting in little blonde ringlets as it naturally did. Deciding that I couldn’t be bothered to straighten it, I rubbed a bit of mouse through and started getting dressed. Having decided that I would dress up as a bunny I pulled on some white leggings and a baby pink top before attaching a tail to me silver hot pants and sliding a bunny eared headband into my hair. For the final touch I painted some freckles onto my face, along with whiskers, with a brown eyeliner pencil and slipped into a pair of silver shoes before running downstairs to answer the door.

    As I pulled open the door a group of three girls stood in front of me, each clad in their own unique outfit. Becci wore a red cape and devil horns, Katie dressed as a witch and Livia a dead school girl, ripped shirt and everything. I smiled as I saw them all before shouting “good-bye” to my parents and skipping out the door.

    “You got ya money?” Katie asked once we were a safe distance from the house. I nodded and handed her a £2 coin with a smile upon my face.

    “’tis gunna be a laugh tonight like,” I beamed as we walked off towards Lauren’s house.



    An hour later we were all sitting down the bars waiting for Gaz. There were loads of people crowded around the little set of bars that separated Hardwick from Bishopsgarth, with the Raily running in-between the two. That is where we all stood, the Raily and the field behind Bishy. Finally Gaz stalked over with a carrier bag in each hand. He placed them on the floor near us before walking off to find his mates. Smiling, I pulled my 2litre from the bag and unscrewed the top.

    “Dizzy Dizzy Dinosaurs?” I asked with a cheeky smile. The girls nodded and we all found a nice space on the field each. “For the count of ten!” I said before raising the bottle to my lips and started spinning. Cider poured down my throat, at first burning as it went down but soon it slipped down like velvet, my stomach welcoming it. Ten seconds later I stopped, holding my bottle by my waist. Shelby lay upon the floor in a fit of giggles and Katie had spun somewhere off into the distance.

    Half an hour I had finished my cider and thrown the bottle somewhere into the bushes. For a while I sat at the bars on Sam’s knee, watching everyone else stumble around me. After a short while I decided that I needed to pee so I jumped from my seat but immediately tumbled back down again as all the blood, and alcohol, rushed to my head. Eventually I stood myself up and managed to stay there before I begun walking down the Raily towards the bottom where it was dark and no-one could see my peeing. As I walked I attempted with vain to follow the white line that ran down the track but gave up half way down. Instead I resigned to walking with my head tilted towards the sky as I watched the stars in the sky. It was like they were performing a beautiful and exquisite light show and it was just for me.

    I jumped as I felt someone’s hands upon my waist and I spun around to see how it was. As I spun my ankle gave way and I collapsed with a thud onto the floor but the figure helped me up quickly, his hands tight under my armpits to lift me up. As I stood I looked him in the face but was dismayed to find his face covered in a fancy Italian style mask. All I could see was his lips and his dark brown, almost black eyes. Smiling, he walked me backwards slowly, his hands still upon my body, pushing my back into the bushes. I kept walking until I felt something hard against my back, and spinning my head around I saw that I was pinned up against a fence. As I turned back around i saw his face close to mine, his eyes burning into my mind, as if he could read my thoughts. I closed my eyes and inhaled, his sweet smell infecting my nose and as I opened my eyes again everything was spinning.

    I could feel the guy’s lips against my cheek and chin, licking my neck. He bit down slightly and I felt a slight sting and I smiled into the night as he sucked. A few seconds later he lifted his head to look me in the eyes and smiled, his fanged teeth tinged pink with blood. My blood. I felt scared yet alive at the same time and mixed feeling rushed around me. Suddenly however, I felt faint and fell with a bang to the floor.




    It was morning when I woke-up and my head was throbbing. It took a few minutes for my eyes to focus and I realised that I was lying upon the bench in my back garden. Confused, I pulled my phone from my jeans pocket and saw it was only 6 in the morning. I was meant to be staying at a mates that night; my parents would wonder if I was caught in the garden this early. After a few attempts I had managed to lift myself from the bench and I stood precautiosly for a few seconds, my body swaying gently.

    Even though it was only November the air was freezing and icy clouds emitted from my lips as I breathed. Walking round so early in the morning was a new experience for me; I had rarely been awake that early. The houses all stood silent and lifeless as most of the people were sound asleep on the cold Sunday morning.

    After a while I realised that it was not only my head that hurt and I put my hand on my neck. As I moved my fingers around a bit I could feel two marks on my neck, like two little holes. I stopped walking and stood perplexed for a few minutes, trying hard to remember last night but I couldn’t. my head still hurting, I walked off to the park at the bottom of the Raily and made myself comfy in the tube slide just as it started raining, before falling asleep once again.
     
  6. jayger04
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    jayger04 Member

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    Short Story Contest (12)

    I'm going to give this a go. I've never written anything with a scary or horror theme before so here goes.

    The Entity (1982 words)

    Carmel placed the three crystal goblets on the coffee table; the wine was in the fridge chilled and ready. Smoothing her hands across her apron she was happy with the result, the apartment was looking great.
    The girls had been meeting up twice a year since their twenties. This time it was delegated to Carmel’s house, and happened to fall on the weekend of Halloween. It was the only date that all three could agree upon, not too close to Christmas and one that each was available. Remembering the girls past antics together, the chosen date should have had some significance but that was in the past now, Carmel shook the memories away and busied herself with lighting candles.

    The first to arrive was Angie, always on time, and armed with some marijuana she had pilfered from her husbands supply. Her husband wasn’t aware she did this, it was one of the many secrets she never divulged to him.
    “Hey honey. Aren’t you looking great? I love that new hair colour on you!” Carmel lied upon opening the door. Angie was always on a diet and by the looks of her, the latest fad was yet another failure.
    “Thanks Carmel. You’re looking great too.” Angie wasn’t lying. Always the peacekeeper, the calmest of the three. Angie had always got on well with everybody, she believed it was her weight, people feel more comfortable around larger people.
    “That stinks.” Carmel said when she opened the bag Angie gave her, quickly closing it and putting it away on top of the refrigerator for later.
    Angies husband’s dream was to make them millionaires by hydroponically growing his own weed. He probably would have reached that goal three times over if he didn’t smoke it all himself.

    The next to arrive was Jenny. The adventurous dare devil beauty, nothing ever fazed her. The one who never had to wear makeup to cover the flaws, as she did not have any. She was the one who had initiated their group, the one that had since disbanded due to a Halloween misadventure, nine years ago to the date.
    Jenny let herself in, carrying grocery bags filled with dips, Turkish bread and cream cheese.
    “**** Jenny. What’s happened to you?” The usual subtle Angie exclaimed at her friend’s appearance. The long gray free waves of brown coloured hair were oily and stringy. It had grown so thin in places that her scalp was visible. She had always been slim, but now she looked too thin, a fiery cold sore made its way from her lips to her nose.
    “I’ll explain everything later. Lets have a drink and some food. I’m starving” Jenny declared, pressing the buttons on the oven to heat the bread.
    Carmel and Angie exchanged glances, concerned for their friend’s appearance.
    She was wearing a long sleeved sweater that flared at the cuff and as she opened the bread packet it had risen to her elbow. There were purple and blue mottled bruises from her wrist to her elbow, five twenty cent pieced dots near her wrist and five up higher.
    “How the hell did that happen?” Carmel said as she grabbed Jenny’s arm carefully. They were finger marks. Bruised and sore Jenny moved her arm from Carmel’s clutches. “It hurts. Can we please just have something to eat?”
    Two hours later the girls were seated at Carmel’s luxurious lounge suite. She had had it made especially, the soft pillows enveloped the seated, sinking into a pool of feathers. The faint smell of peach and vanilla from the scented candles was relaxing. They had eaten and drank. Shared gossip and news. Jenny was a little more subdued then normal, but the other two girls got louder and louder, compensating for their friends quiet. They brushed aside their earlier concern, enjoying the evening as they had done in the past.
    The gas heater was burning low, the illusion of burning logs was the main illumination in the room.
    “This is the best room of the house Carmel. Where did you get those candles? They smell so delicious.”

    Sensing a lull in conversation Jenny began rolling the joint, the other two watching on in anticipation.
    “I think it’s time I tell you what’s going on.” Jenny addressed the others, licking the paper to seal the thick pipe.
    Carmel and Angie looked at each other, sitting up straighter on the couch to listen to what she had to say.
    “It’s back. He’s back. At my Aunts house.”
    Nobody said anything and the silence was heavy. They didn’t look at each other. It was finally broken by the sound of sobs coming from Carmel. Angie left the room to get a cloth from the kitchen. She knew what was coming.
    Jenny shrugged when she had come back. “Do you want me to continue?”
    Angie began wiping up spilt tobacco from the glass coffee table, tears falling. She threw the cloth down, it had torn form the vigorous action of scrubbing up wine stained rings.
    “I’m not doing this again Jenny. That’s all in the past, I want a normal life, have had a normal life for nine years now.”
    Carmel continued to cry, great hacking sobs shook the couch each time she lurched into the next batch. Jenny started rolling another joint, passing the previous one to Angie.
    “My Aunt needs our help, she doesn’t know who else to turn to.”

    The girls belonged to a paranormal investigation group when they finished high school. It was a shared interest amongst them, ghosts and the occult.
    After the initial schoolgirl séance parties they had partaken in a few house hauntings, ghost tours and sleepovers arranged by people who at the end were only there to collect their riches. It was all a bit of fun until strange things began happening to Jenny’s Aunt Jackie. She had moved into her mother in laws home, but refused to spend nights there due to strange occurrences.
    She knew of the girls’ experiences and decided to confide in Jenny, who in turn told the others.
    They had decided to do their own investigation, nominating a night armed with digital cameras and recording equipment. Sleeping bags rolled and ready, plenty of food and courage that only the young know. They had chosen Halloween night, where the veils between the worlds were thin.

    Into the night they had experienced only cold drafts and patches. There were the usual bumps but due to their unfamiliar surroundings, explained the noises away as house movement. They didn’t tell ghost stories, that activity was for amateurs. All was quiet and they believed the night to be a waste, until they settled down to sleep that was.

    Jenny and Angie were sharing a double sleeping bag, chatting away to one another and laughing about the fake psychic they had all visited last week. Carmel was beside them, snuggled up and fatigued from an exhausting night of adrenaline let down.
    “I’m sick of wasting my money on these kooks. What about her fake eyelashes? She looked like a cartoon camel.” Jenny and Angie were laughing.
    They didn’t hear the gasp that came from the sleeping bag beside them.

    Carmel felt a hand over her mouth, a weight pinning her down to the floor. She couldn’t move, something is on top of her. Searching under her clothes, she could feel her shirt being pulled up and her breasts groped roughly. She couldn’t scream, but in the back of her throat started making a gurgling sound. This alerted the others who sat up and reached over to her.
    Jenny could see Carmel, her eyes filled with horror. The sleeping bag zip was caught, she couldn’t get out. Angie was kicking her legs, trying to free them from the bag to get across to Carmel.
    Carmel could feel something pressing on her pubic bone, hard rough and big.
    She started to struggle more, trying to kick her legs and free her head from whatever was holding her down.
    The other two had freed themselves and were trying to pull Carmel up.
    “Get off her. Carmel fight it. Get up. Get up” they both screamed hysterically simultaneously. Pulling at their friends’ hands and arms, getting her to stand.
    The girls could feel something slapping their hands away, fighting them off.
    After what felt like ages, but would only have been seconds Carmel could move. She was crying and screaming. All girls ran from the house, leaving their belongings where they stood. In the safety away from the home they inspected Carmel’s battered body. Red welts extended from her forehead to the inside of her thighs, fiery and swollen, later to turn to dark blue bruises.
    “It tried to rape me. It tried to rape me.” She said over and over.
    The girls were sullen. Frightened.

    That was nine years ago. Neither of them had been interested in hauntings again. And until now, Aunt Jackie’s house had been quiet and uneventful. They never discussed what had happened that night, each believing that burying their memories of that night was the right thing to do.
    “It has started again. Aunt Jackie has been complaining of some activity in her home and I refused to listen to her. She was telling me about a chest lid being slammed down on her hands, and something watching her when she slept. I had ignored it until last weekend when she was taken to hospital.” Jenny sighed, “She was pushed down the stairs and has a fractured skull.”

    Each girl was crying. They knew the power of this entity, this being, it was evil and sadistic. Wanted to hurt, possibly to kill.
    “I tried to take it on myself. I didn’t want to bring you guys into it after what happened last time.” Pulling up her sleeve she showed them her arm.
    “It grabbed me here and threw me outside. And since then I’ve been losing my hair. I can’t sleep. I feel tired all the time. Look at me!” she wailed.
    The others moved closer to Jenny, Carmel hugging her, arm around her back and Angie clasping her hand tightly.
    Angie screamed and jumped away from Jenny, Carmel doing the same as she looked across at her friend.

    Jenny’s face had changed. The beautiful eyes were now like slits, the face elongated. Perspiration was streaming from her forehead. A pungent stench arose from their friend. Like rotting washing, left in the machine too long on a hot and humid day.
    Carmel started reciting the Lords prayer. Angie joined her. Both of their eyes shut tight. The thing that was Jenny let out a scream.
    Angie put her hands over her ears, yelling the prayer to block out the sound. It was unidentifiable, not heard before or recognized as earthly.
    The smell was getting stronger, invading their nostrils and lingering around them like tentacles. The smell of the candles had vanished.

    All of a sudden there was silence. Jenny was still on the couch. Although she was slicked in sweat, her features were as they used to be. Angie and Carmel had opened their eyes and were staring down at Jenny. She was stirring, mumbling something.
    Angie rushed to get a glass of water. Carmel had sat Jenny up and was trying to make her aware of her surroundings.
    Later Jenny explained what had happened.
    “I traveled down a dark tunnel. At the bottom was this thing. I could hear you guys but you didn’t seem to hear me. A huge angry thing, he was waiting for me. It was so angry. I could feel its hate. That’s all I remember.”

    The girls stayed together that night, holding hands, too scared to let go.
    They made plans to call in professionals to Jackie’s house, to make sure this creature was gone forever.

    They promised to never to dabble in occult matters themselves again.
     
  7. phurst
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    phurst Senior Member

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    Tricked

    Tricked (1520)
    By Phurst


    Pierson sat staring at the pumpkin he bought only a few hours ago. It was shaped perfectly oval. Just like his wife’s head, he thought with a crazed smile. And the right size! Her old wig made it even more so and a pair of her earrings stuck in the side completed the uncut version. As he stared at it, trying to imagine what her pumpkin face should look like, he ran his thumb slowly along the razor sharp edge of the knife in his hands. He twisted the heavy wooden handle left and right, shooting reflected light back and forth across the ceiling. His head tilted to one side like an artist getting perspective.
    Pierson was angry because his wife had left him. She said she had enough.
    Uncouth, she had called him. Uncouth! It had to be a bad thing. He was sure.
    He gripped the handle tighter.
    A filthy, boring, jerk.
    He raised the knife in a stabbing motion.
    A lazy, no good, beer-drinking, bum.
    He placed his finger right below where the eye would be.
    Just an over-the-hill, fat, unemployed, child.
    He reared back
    A lousy lover with a little winkie.
    The knife raced to the spot, driven with the force of a maniac trying to kill his demons.
    He missed his mark.
    The knife entered his finger at the point the nail starts and the flesh ends. The pain exploded in his head, snapping Pierson out of his fantasy. He ripped the knife back out and ran to the bathroom. He let his finger bleed into the sink while he searched the medicine cabinet for a bandage. It was empty. Reaching across the toilet he grabbed the roll hanging beside it. He pulled a few feet toward him then snapped it. The toilet paper didn’t separate. Instead the roll spun like a whirling dervish, sending a waterfall of paper to the floor where it piled up. Pierson was pissed. He started wrapping his gushing finger in what paper he could grab until the length slid across the toilet seat, one he hadn’t put down like he had been trained over the years. It dropped into the bowl, floating on the yellow water he hadn’t flushed when he used it last. He tried to separate the wet from the dry but was too clumsy to perform the task with one hand. He was forced to use both. The blood dripped everywhere, contrasting sharply with the bright white porcelain.
    Finally, Pierson was able to stem the flow under a ball of toilet paper. The pain was excruciating but Pierson knew what to do about pain. He went to the bedroom and felt under the dresser for his small tin. He carried it back to the kitchen.
    When he looked at the pumpkin on the table, he could see the smile, the sneer, the smirk, the same face his wife had when she walked out. Pierson smiled back. He’d wipe that smug look off soon enough, as soon as he stopped his pain. He opened the box and pulled out a small bag of cocaine. It was hard work using only one hand. In the end, he just dumped a small hill of it on the table. He picked up the same knife he had stabbed himself with and wiped it on his pant leg. Using the blade, he pulled out two rather large lines and with the short plastic straw in the box, pulled them up his nose. He tilted his head back and let the drug do its work. Pierson looked back at the blob of toilet paper on his finger trying to peer through the mass of white and pinpoint the center of pain. It really hadn’t subsided much. He wondered for a moment if he should dab some on the wound to dull the electric pulse coming from the spot just below the nail. He looked at his diminishing pile of coke and decided against it. In a brief moment of clarity, he thought he should go to the emergency room then just as quickly dismissed the thought. He’d have to mention the coke. Instead, he went to the refrigerator and pulled out a beer.
    Holding it against his side with his arm, he snapped the tab and drank half in a single swallow. He turned and looked back at the bright orange pumpkin on the table. It looked like it was winking at him. The spot where the knife had gone through his finger had cut the pumpkin in just the right spot, slightly sideways, and a smear of blood shaded it just right.
    It was his wife all right, making fun of his pain. He sat back down in front of it and grabbed the knife again. This time he left his finger in his lap. His blood marked the spot.
    The first thing he saw when the knife connected with the orange skin of the pumpkin was a real eye. It was opened wide in shock as the knife went into the black center and split the blue. Pierson saw it all in detail, including the tiny red lines that ran through the whites. He pulled the knife out as fast as it went in. There sat the pumpkin, just as he had bought it, just as he had dressed it, except for the eye. It bulged from the face of the pumpkin, split in the middle, unseeing. But real.
    Pierson sat for a moment just staring, unbelieving. Then slowly, with a shaking hand, he reached out and touched it. He pulled back his hand as if the eye were white hot. It was real enough.
    Then Pierson began to laugh. It was his wife’s eye no doubt. It was the same color, the same shape, and it was blind. He laughed some more.
    “One eye’d blind bitch! Perfect!,” he said to the strange headpiece.
    Then he began waving the knife around in front of the pumpkin face.
    “Who’s ugly now?”
    He stabbed the other side and again an eye appeared as the knife entered. This time the knife missed the center and entered just below, forcing the eyeball to pop out and hang down on the face of the pumpkin. Pierson roared with laughter.
    “Honey, you’re mascara is running.”
    He got up and went to the fridge to get another beer. He paused his work long enough to do a few more lines of coke. Then he took up the knife again.
    “Let’s give you a nose job.”
    Three rapid hacks to the center of the face produced a nose. Or something that resembled one, cut into three parts. Pierson’s humor was now mixed with anger as each strike was done as retribution for his wife’s insults.
    “Oh you ugly witch. Not ugly enough though.”
    Pierson sat back and tried to decide where he was going to stab next. Maybe a slice across the forehead. Down the cheek? A chin! A cut and mutilated chin! He went to work with a fevered pitch.
    At last he was done. The pumpkin was now more mutilated face than fruit, with one exception. The mouth! He raised the knife, wanting to hit the spot in rapid succession, cutting lips, smashing teeth but then he stopped.
    “I want to see you sneer now,” he said, slightly slurred from the beer and coke.
    He took the knife and pulled it slowly from left to right in a slight bow. As he did, he watched the lips form, splitting perfectly, the upper above the blade, the lower below. Maybe he’d kiss those lips one last time, or perhaps…….
    Then as he finished the arc and pulled the knife away, the mouth opened, lips, teeth, tongue, all real. And a scream came out. His wife’s terrified scream, filled with pain. Pierson fell out of his chair as his feet pistoned to get away from the horrid deformed creature on the table, half pumpkin, half human, bellowing in pain and anger. At first, he held his hands over his ears but then he realized the neighbors may call the cops if the noise persisted. He ran to the garage and flung open drawers until he found what he was looking for. He raced back into the house and used the duct tape to cover the mouth. Once the screaming stopped, Pierson sat back down. Now what?
    Then it came to him.
    Halloween night Pierson sat on his couch watching a hockey game, a six pack of beer in a trash can covered with ice sat next to him. Suddenly, Pierson heard that familiar scream, followed immediately by a couple higher pitch ones. Kids! He smiled and got up from his chair. He walked out on to his porch and closed the door on his refrigerator, cutting off the sounds of the wounded pumpkin wife that sat dead center on the shelf. He rearranged the sign that said “Free Candy Inside” and turned to look down his sidewalk. He loved this holiday. A couple of houses away, the next group of kids were heading his way.
     
  8. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Night in the Forest (1317)

    Martin could not remember how old he had been when his father had first told him of the Spectres. It was his earliest memory; his father’s bearded face, bathed in a gentle red light, the softly flickering glow of the fire.

    “They have always been,” he said. “They have always held the forest, their realm of black terror. We give to them the offering, each year when the day is at its longest, and we light the torches and do not stray outdoors when the night it in its prime. For though they do not fear the light, it is the sign of our covenant. They will harm no man carrying a lit torch, so long as the offering is kept.”

    Martin had not understood everything that was said that night, but since that night he had been captivated by the Spectres. Each year, by the light of day, he had dutifully gathered the offering; the first fruits of the field. Each and every equinox, he had lain the food upon the great stone table by the forest edge, before withdrawing to safety beyond the line of torches. With the arrival of the morning light, the table was always bare.

    He had never seen the Spectres, none of the villagers still living had. And though he had often waited at up at his bedroom window late into the night, hoping to catch a glimpse of them taking their prize into the leafy darkness. But it was the darkness of sleep he had always found instead.

    But on this night. This night, Martin meant to see at last the things which had haunted his darkest dreams, and ensnared his mind in the hours of daylight. The offering was laid, the torches had been lit, and the villagers had withdrawn to their homes and safety, as the dying sun sank below the horizon.

    Martin waited, eyes patiently fixed upon the piled offering. Beside him sat his closest friend, Tomas. Both of their parents believed their sons to be early abed, sickness having overwhelmed them. Surely boys of barely twelve summers should not face what would chill the heart of a grown man.
    But Martin was no ordinary boy; he was of a curious mind, and he meant for his curiosity to tonight be satisfied. Tomas was along only out of that adolescent need to be unbeaten in anything, the need not to be outdone, which grips all boys of his age.

    They carried with them each a torch, yet unlit, and they waited in a nervously excited silence, which hung in the dark air, mounting as the sun faded; following its age-old appointed course, westwards behind the hills. It was Tomas who broke the silence, who spoke first.

    “I hear the Spectres are those who have died and not passed on,” he said, huddling himself against the cold of the encroaching dark. “That they are skeletons and rotting flesh, black with decay.”

    Martin did not believe that; they did not seem like that in his nightmares. No, he thought they would be less physical…a mist, maybe. Or perhaps something different entirely, but not anything so obvious as reanimated dead.

    “We’ll find out soon,” was all he said, nodding to the west, where the sun finally sank beneath the horizon, the red light left behind only the remnants of its daily funeral pyre. Both boys lit their torches, the flickering light spilling chillingly over them.

    Martin stuck his in the soft earth, sitting back to observe the shadowy pile on the forest edge. Tomas, however, held his closer, hugging it to his body; there was a shudder to the shaft as well as the flame.

    They waited like this for almost an hour. Both moon and stars came out, casting an eerie silver light across the scene. It was ghostly, but it was light nonetheless, so Martin was glad of it. Tomas was perhaps less grateful.

    After an hour, Martin became frustrated. He stood, and to Tomas’ horrified surprise, marched right up to the offering table, leaving his torch in the ground. He approached the pile of food, and held out one hand, watching the spindly fingers of his shadow upon it. Then, all reverence lost in the deep abyss of the night, he plucked a single red apple from the pile. He brought it to his lips, and was about to take a bite, when a noise from the forest distracted him.

    “Bring the torch!” he called to Tomas, without turning, as he began to walk along the broad road which led into the shadow-filled secrets of the forest. In his hand, he still held the apple he had stolen from the darkness’s dwellers.

    “Martin!” Tomas called, chasing after him his friend with both torches in his hands, their flickering lights bobbing as he moved. “Martin! Wait, where are you going?” His voice rose with desperation. He feared the forest, but he feared being alone more, on this night most of all.

    As the two children made their careful way along the ancient road, the night closed in around them in cold embrace. Sparkling icicles hung from frosty branches; cruel, reaching fingers, stretching out towards the boys, alone in the dark.

    Martin shivered. Tomas shook violently; he nearly dropped his torch. “Martin?” he asked, uncertainly. “Martin?”

    “I’m here, Tomas,” he answered, unable to keep the tremor out of his voice. He was uncertain now, lost; he could see nothing but the shadowed shapes of the trees on either side. They had turned sinister, tall figures watching him, waiting to strike.

    A sudden gust of cold, whispering wind swept past him, swirling around them both and extinguishing their torches like a heavenly puff of breath. A shroud of heavy darkness fell over both of them; thick, encompassing, a veil of despair.

    They shrieked as one, backing towards each other, cold sweats breaking out on their skin as their hearts raced at double time. The Spectres were coming. Perhaps they were already there. Martin could feel them as a coldness in his soul as they swept out of the night; terrifying dark shapes, swooping and whispering. He no longer wanted to see them. The guilty apple fell from his limp hand.

    Martin and Tomas knelt together, crying and hoping. In their despair the hoped, hoped against hope, for light; for the sun; for warm, hopeful rays of bright light…light…light…

    Light exploded with a roar of victorious flame. A shout of defiance in the depths of the night, as the torch lit up. The Spectres shrank back from it. The torch was in the hand of a tall and strong man, on whose bearded face the torch light fell. “Martin?” he called.

    “I am here, father,” Martin answered through his sobs, running to him with Tomas right behind him. The two of them clung to the man, who stooped and picked from the dark forest floor a small object. When it came into the light, they saw it was a rosy red apple; the very same one Martin had unscrupulously taken from the offering.

    “Remember out covenant,” he shouted into the night, throwing the apple towards the Spectres. “The first fruits of the land, for our lives. Remember!” The apple levitated in the air, before the Spectres, who gave a great sigh like a gust of wind. The apple and Spectres slowly receded deeper into the forest, until they were lost in the darkness.

    As Martin’s father led the two silently from the forest, the sun began to rise. As they passed the stone offering table which had held a great pile when they had entered the forest, they saw it was now empty. Not a thing remained. The torches, too, were burned down and extinguished. Martin looked back towards the forest. In the soft dawn light, he thought it looked beautiful, with dew twinkling in the trees. It was almost inviting...
     
  9. crashbang
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    crashbang Active Member

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    The impact of egg

    sorry double posted. why does that always happen?
     
  10. crashbang
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    crashbang Active Member

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    hmm....

    Okay, for this im just gunna wing it because I'm pretty confident i can make a good halloween story.

    Vengeance

    It had been such a fine night for Jason. Trick or treat bag bulging, full of mini mars bars and Twix and all the other things kids eat frenziedly on Halloween. Him and his mates had egged the headmaster’s house, egged a few passersby, even egged a stray dog. A good night for eggs. He had stopped his mates Zig and Tom egging his sister though, as she skipped past in a fairy outfit, her little gaggle of friends in similar fairy outfits following her.
    'Oh come-on, you would laugh if we got one of them in the nose.'
    'I said no!' Jason said loudly, rounding on Tom. They could egg the teachers’ houses fine. Egg the people who didn't give them sweets, fine, they were stupid enough not to give them sweets afterall halloween was for giving.
    But not his sister.,,
    'OY, YOU!'
    Jason saw the man as he came running, someone he recognised from an egged house window, Bernese mountain dog beside.
    Jason whipped two eggs without even thinking. One hit the dog in the face, who started whining loudly, while the other egg shattered over the mans hand, causing him to let go of the lead.
    The Bernese mountain dog ran out into the road. Straight in front of a land rover, having just come through the traffic lights.
    Jason didn't know what was more sickening. The Bernese rolling under the massive wheels of the land rover, bone crushed under the land rovers tremendous bulk.
    Or the silence that followed it.
    'Go...' Jason said, suddenly sweating cold. Him and his partners ran from the scene.
    As they ran Jason heard the man scream 'Febi!' into the sky, which was dark red as the last rays of sun slipped away.
    They went back to Jason's house, Jason ignoring the neon orange pumpkins that populated his front garden like leering evil judges. They went straight upstairs, Jason ignoring his mums calls that he should have been home hours ago, that his dinner had gone cold...
    Once they were up in Jason's bedroom, strewn with magazines, dirty clothes, games, Jason sat on his bed. Tom, his best mate sat in the wheelie chair next to the computer. Zig, some guy Tom knew, leant against the door.
    Everyone was quiet for a moment.
    'Did you hear the old prick screaming?' Tom said, smiling faintly. 'What a tard.'
    Jason looked up to shout at him, then saw his fists. Those fists that curled up sometimes when Tom was waiting, just waiting for Jason to disagree.
    Tom just smiled weakly and nodded.

    After a few hours of lying in the dark in bed, Tom and his mate Zig having gone, the cold sweat was still there. The feel of the eggs in his hands was still there.
    And he couldn’t shake the feeling of...breeze. A warm, stale breeze fluttering around the room.
    He sat up and looked toward the window. The windows were shut fast, and the tree that stretched outside didn’t even flutter, it's leaves unmoving.
    Jason lay back onto his plain blue sheets, and then turned over, trying to get more comfortable.
    The dog stared him in the face. Jason screamed, and as he did the dog's mouth opened wide like the predatory smile of the judge pumpkins set outside, or a slashed throat. Bile poured out of its mouth as its eyeless black sockets were revealed in sudden luminous light. The light revealed its broken torso, its crushed ribs, and a front leg that protruded shockingly at a right angle. And it's hair-it's hair was wild and pulsed with some hidden charge like a wild, untamed, savage dog. The thing mocked him even as he screamed, and suddenly Jason was in agony, and the land rover's huge wheels were crushing his ribs instead, the air pushed out of his lungs so he couldn’t even scream as the egg yolk burned his eyes.
    Jason screamed over and over again as he felt the dog's death over and over.
    'JASON!!JASON!!'
    HIs dad took minutes to shake him awake.
    ‘JASON! It was only a dream, just a dream...’ His dad was hugging him, embracing his son tightly
    ‘Where’s the dog...?’
    ‘No dog here. We don’t let dog’s in the house remember? For Lauren’s sake?’ His dad looked into Jason’s eyes, trying to get him to understand.
    Jason looked over his dad’s shoulder. The light from the hall, where Lauren, his sister, and his mum stood, illuminated the room. There was no dog. His dad was right.
    Jason lay back. He wouldn’t let his eyes un-widen, not yet. But relief was seeping back into him. There was no dog. It was all a dream.
    ‘Lauren told us about what happened to the dog on the main road. I know it looked bad, but you cant dwell on it.’ His dad said softly, standing up. ‘You have to move on.’
    ‘Yeah’ Jason agreed, knowing he was lying to himself, his dad, and his mum and Lauren, outside the door. He didn’t care. It was only a dream...
    His mum and dad went back downstairs, telling Lauren to ‘Shut Jason’s door and let him get some proper sleep.’ They went downstairs to watch whatever horror film they were watching this night, leaving Lauren standing outside the door.
    ‘Thanks for stopping your friends throwing eggs.’ Lauren said. ‘Night.’
    ‘Ni-‘
    The dog appeared behind Lauren as she was closing the door. Just materialising out of nowhere.
    Its hairs was wild and savage unlike a Bernese’s hair, it black and hollow eye sockets leering at him.
    And it smiled at him with its long throat-slash smile, black bile streaming out of its mouth.
    Jason realised milliseconds too late.
    Why torture the perpetrator when you can take the one that’s most important to the perpetrator? The one he tries to protect?
    ‘LAUREN!’ Jason screamed as the door shut. Lauren didn’t hear a hint of his screams.
    ‘LAUREN!!LAUREN!!’
    They found her in the morning. Staring straight ahead, into the plain white wall that her bed faced.
    She didn’t talk for the entire day. And the day after that. And the day after that.
    On the fourth day her teary parents took her to the hospital. And then the special unit.
    On Christmas day Jason and his parents, fighting and their marriage on the rocks, went to see their daughter again. She still didn’t talk.
    She did nothing but stare at Jason.
    And Jason could see not only her accusing, cold eyes, but behind them, the ghost of the Bernese, smiling like silent murder.

    words:1092
     
  11. ScaryPen
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    ScaryPen Active Member

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    In the dark

    Word count: 1255

    Eli woke up to the sound of someone talking in the room. She blinked in the dark, disoriented for a while. Why was the room so dark? She distinctly remembered moonlight from a full moon streaming through her window before she fell asleep, but it was pitch black now. The street lights below seemed to have gone out as well, the room had never been this dark.

    Eli listened for a while. Someone had been talking, right? That’s why she woke up but now all she heard was absolute silence. Maybe her roommate had talked in her sleep. She looked across the room at the other bed. It was too dark, she couldn't see anything, but no one was moving. Oh well, Nina must be fast asleep. Eli yawned and thought drowsily of random things to do over the weekend and soon she was drifting off to sleep again when –

    Eli snapped wide awake.
    Nina had gone home for the week end. Nina couldn’t be in the room, Nina wasn’t in the room.
    Was then someone else there?

    Eli lay very still, trying not to panic. For a long time there she heard nothing. She listened carefully for tell tale breathing sounds but there were none. It was quiet, too quiet. She'd almost decided that she'd dreamed the whole thing when she heard a soft chuckle.

    Eli froze. She pulled her covers close up to her face. The October night breeze blew through her open window and she began shivering. She clenched her jaw tight hoping her teeth wouldn't start chattering. Eli was afraid to make a sound or move. Who knew what psycho was lurking in the dark waiting to attack?
    I could laugh if it wasn’t so scary, she thought. It felt like scene from some third rate slasher movie
    Oh god, oh god, oh god...
    Slowly the minutes passed. Eli lost track of how long she’d been awake. Maybe it's nothing. Maybe I'm just being paranoid and freaking myself out.
    It sounded weak even in her head. Eli kept trying to convince herself.
    I'm just dreaming, she thought.

    “Are you?” A cold hard voice whispered in the dark.

    Eli shrieked, jumped out of her bed, found the light switch and turned it on. Nothing happened. The room remained dark.

    She groped blindly trying to find her way round the room. She couldn’t see a thing. It was too ****ing dark! She stubbed her toe on a chair and howled in pain and anger. She stumbled around the room. All she could hear was her own shaking sobs but she knew something was still there and while she couldn't see it, it could see her.
    “Please, please, please,” Eli began crying.

    “Please, please, please”, the thing echoed back, mocking her. That's it. Eli thought. I can’t take this anymore. She ran in blind panic in the direction of where she thought the door was, straight into the steely grasp of the thing in the room. The last thing she remembered was looking down and seeing claws clutching her. She also remembered screaming.

    ****

    Eli woke up to loud knocking on the door.
    “Eli! Are you all right? “Someone was knocking on her door
    Eli sprang from her bed and turned on the switches. The lights came on this time to reveal an empty room. She felt immense relief wash over her. It had been just a nightmare.
    “Eli! Open the door!”
    Eli took a second to compose herself. She took a few deep breaths, shook her head and opened the door. It was the girl from the room next door. She looked worried. Behind her Eli could see that some of the girls had come out of their rooms. They looked confused, sleepy and a tiny bit alarmed.

    "Are you all right? We heard you scream.” Eli’s neighbour asked.
    Eli could feel her face turn red. She felt guilty.
    “I just had a nightmare,” she said, “sorry.”
    The girls in the corridor heard this and began going back to their rooms, some even looked somewhat annoyed. Eli’s neighbour lingered on for a while. She still looked worried.
    “I really am ok. It was just a nightmare” Eli said, “I just…”
    .“I know, I know” her neighbour said sympathetically “Nina's death ... we’re all a bit shaken. If you need anything, I'll be in my room. Go get some sleep, it’s two in the morning.“ She gave Eli an awkward pat on the shoulder and left.

    Nina. Eli had forgotten. She shut the door and slid down to the floor. Nina was dead and for a while she'd almost forgotten about that. Her room mate and best friend had left for home two days ago. Yesterday, the news came that the night bus Nina had been traveling in had an accident on the way when passing by the forest area. No survivors. By the time someone found them, it was morning. Some of the bodies had been found with their throats torn open. The police said the accident might have attracted wild animals. Local papers said the whole area was washed with blood.
    Eli bit her lip, tears spilling over her cheeks. Right now in the sanity and comfort of the lighted room, she felt she preferred the nightmare. At least she'd forgotten about Nina’s death, even if for a little while.

    Eli didn’t know how long she wept with her head in her arms. She started when the window rattled in the breeze.

    Enough, Eli told herself, wiping her tears, go to sleep now.

    Eli got up, switched off the lights, and got into bed, all the while looking at Nina's side of the room. She could see Nina's empty bed very clearly in the moonlight steaming through the windows. She felt another stab of cold grief. She closed her eyes and turned to lie on her back.

    Good, she thought, sleep will help.

    She was soon half dreaming. She dreamt she could smell something. Eli frowned a little, her eyes still closed. Her half sleepy brain tried to remember. It was the scent from her nightmare. I must be dreaming again, she thought. This was familiar… Nina’s perfume? Yes! The perfume Nina used… but there was something else too, something unpleasant. Smells like blood.
    Eli stirred a bit but her eyes were still shut.

    I'm just missing her,
    she thought. I miss you Nina.

    “I miss you too”, a cold hard voice whispered. Eli's body locked up and mind jolted awake. She opened eyes, looked at the ceiling and the scream died in her throat.

    ****
    The next day the girl from the next room knocked on the door and got no response. She got worried after half an hour of knocking and got the hostel super and a security guard. They broke down the door and found the room empty with the windows wide open. Eli’s things were still there but there was no sign of Eli herself. The girls later told the police that Eli had been deep affected by her best friend’s death. She had a nightmare last night. The general belief seemed that she couldn’t cope with the pain. It was just too much for her to be in the room. Maybe she went away in the middle of the night through the window.

    Everyone had a theory – Eli’s friends, classmates, her family that never heard from her – everyone. The only thing that no one knew how to explain were the bloody footprints on the ceiling of Eli’s room.
     
  12. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Winter Princess (3,200 words)​

    The young girl, knew she was in trouble. Blood dripped down her back, staining the normally brilliant white jacket, a colourful pink. The Raiders that were bearing down on her seemed to double in number, as her vision blurred. Even without the throbbing headache, and the feeling that her head would burst every time her heart pumped another bit of blood through her body, she knew she had a concussion. Her tiara felt cold and very, very, heavy on her brow.

    Despite all of that, she still had to fight. Fight, and fight, and fight. If she didn’t she was dead. It was nice to have a very simple problem to deal with for a change, the very sensible voice in the back of her head thought.

    Screaming from a badly bruised shoulder, she raised her hands over head. She reached into the hot, raging power that had clamped onto her soul. The power inside her, that allowed her to fight, wasn’t her. It was something else. They had given it to her years ago. She loved the feeling of it, she loved the power it gave her. She loved the sense of pride and hope it gave her. But it wasn’t a part of her. It was something else.

    She called to it now, using her voice, her body, and every ounce of will power she possessed.

    “Winters Peace!” she screamed to the night.

    With the silly name calling, the ridiculous pose, and the too tight, too small clothes she was wearing, she might have looked like a silly magical school girl from a Japanese cartoon, right down to a silver tiara in her short hair. Considering it was Halloween night, she fit right in with all the other costumes. Only the bruised face, bloody and torn clothes, and the noiseless creatures charging her, detracted from the image.

    A blinding white light erupted from her hands. It filled the alleyway. The girl didn’t feel its effects, she wasn’t blinded by the light, or freeze as the horrifying coldness of the light froze everything it touched. The Raiders that were attacking her, were another matter. Creatures of unreal shadow, they cowered from the brilliant light, their ethereal bodies dissolving as the light broke there bonds in this reality. The bitter cold shattered their bloody silvery claws. They fell like melting icicles to the ground, and lay there unable to ever again rend the young girls flesh.

    She finally collapsed. On a surprisingly warm Halloween night, in a dingy Toronto alleyway, the young girl fell onto the frost encrusted pavement, as glass shattered by the sudden, intense cold, fell to the ground. She couldn’t stay there long, she had to find Lord Isling. But she could rest, letting the magic that empowered her heal some of her wounds. Just a few minutes, and she could stop him.

    Cradling her head in her arms, ignoring the blood dripping down her back, she fell asleep.

    ***
    “Winter Princess,” a voice spoke to her.

    It dragged her out of the darkness of sleep. She tried to ignore it, she hurt too much. Sleep was better. Sleep was peaceful, painless.

    “Winter Princess, wake up,” The voice insisted.

    Her free arm rose to cover her ears, to block out the voice of her mentor. The bruised and swollen shoulder moved a few inches before every nerve shrieked in red hot pain. Winter Princess gasped in agony, her eyes wide as she tried not to scream.

    “Winter Princess, let me heal your wounds,” said her mentor, Messenger.

    Laying very still, trying not to move any part of her injured body, she relaxed and closed her eyes again. Messenger spoke in an unknown language. She felt her body heat up, as he summoned the soul of the Earth into her, healing her worst wounds. The bruises that covered her body slowly vanished. The worst ones weren’t healed completely, but they shrank and became a horrible greenish colour, as if they’d occurred several weeks ago. The skin of her wounded back, torn open by a Sightless, regrew quickly. It was itching, and hot to the touch, but it wasn’t bleeding anymore, and it wouldn’t reopen. Her head still ached, but it was bearable now. She’d survive. She’d be able to fight.

    Again.

    “Thank you, Messenger,” she said, standing up. “I have to find Lord Isling. He knows who I am. We have to stop him before he can leave reality at dawn.”

    Messenger shook his head sadly. “You don’t have to do anything.”

    “What!” Winter Princess exclaimed. “Did you get him already?”

    “No, he is alive, but he is not your concern anymore,” Messenger said. “You will not be dealing with the any of the Raider Lords again.”

    Winter Princess stared at him in shock. “B-but he knows who I am. He could attack my family, my friends. I have to stop them.”

    Messenger once more shook his head. “The Raiders of Reality are no longer your concern. Jennifer Latham, we made a grave error when we gave you the power of the Winter Princess. I am now forced to correct it.”

    Winter Princess cut in before he could continue. “What do you mean, correct?” she asked suddenly scared.

    “We gave you the power. It was not meant for you. I made a mistake. We now know who the real Winter Princess is. To give her the birthright, we must take it from you. You will be unharmed, merely returning to your former status as a normal human,” he hastened to add.

    Normal again.

    How long had she longed to just be able to just be normal? No more hiding bruises from people like some abused kid. No more therapy, because her parents thought she was a rebellious gang banger. She might be able to finish high school now. No more social service workers asking if her parents are beating her.

    Her mother wouldn’t have to cry every time she missed another family gathering because she was running off to save someone. Her father might talk to her again. Her brother might be alive, if he hadn’t followed her a year ago. She might be able to work things out with them now. If she was normal she could at least try.

    She could live without the feeling of satisfaction knowing she saved someone. They were going to give the job to the proper girl this time. They’d always wondered why she took so long to pick up the skills. She still needed to think about using her powers. It wasn’t as instinctive as they’d said it should be. The feeling of joy she felt whenever she did kill a Raider would be missed. But she could live without it. The rage she felt when she reached for the power that gave her those feelings scared her sometimes long after the joy had left. She could live without it.

    This was almost a dream come true.

    There was only one small problem.

    “Lord Isling still knows who I am. He’ll come looking for me,” she told him. “Let me keep the powers for just one more night. Let me kill Lord Isling, and I’ll hand the power to you on a silver platter.”

    “No,” he said. “Jennifer, the true Winter Princess, is in grave danger. We need to give her the powers immediately or she will be unprepared to face it. I am sorry, but I need to take them from you.”

    “What about my danger!” Jennifer said. “I fought for you. For two years I fought. My brother died trying to help me, and if you take the power from me, the rest of my family and I will probably die the same way. Give me just five more hours. One way or another it’s all I need.”

    Any other words died in her throat. She’d faced death before, but she’d never stated it so openly. But it was true. All she needed was to find Lord Isling, and one of them would die. It was as simple as that.

    Messenger shook his head fiercely. “I cannot give you five hours, or even one hour. The Winter Princess is in deadly danger now, and must be protected. I will take your powers, now.”

    “My parents could die if the other Raider Lords learn who I am,” she pleaded.

    “The true Winter Princess will protect them as she will protect all reality in this area,” he told her. “That is her job. You are once more a human. You will have the same protection and abilities as all other humans, no more, no less. Once the Raider Lords learn you are unable to fight them, they will ignore you as inconsequential.”

    Jennifer stared at him in shock. She wanted to cry, but pride kept her eyes dry. “You don’t fight many Raiders. Every one of them that I have met, would hunt down and kill every mosquito it could, if a single bug bothered them. I’ve killed too many of their creatures, and stopped too many of their plans. They’ll hunt me down and if I’m lucky rip my throat out. I need the powers, or I need protection.”

    Messenger tilted his head slightly, looking like he was seriously considering what she said. Jennifer allowed herself a little bit of hope, maybe he’d let her keep the power, just a bit longer.

    She screamed as his hand plunged into her chest. She felt his hand moving through her, like ice. It didn’t hurt, not physically, but she screamed in agony. Her soul was pierced by it. It tore through her, like a knife. Her essence, her spirit, twisted away from the hand, trying to protect itself. Her body shook in terror, paralyzed by shock.

    She felt his hand close on the power that had connected with her soul. It hadn’t joined her soul like they told her it would, but they were still connected by whatever energy allowed the power to exist. The Messengers hand moved along the seam, feeling where the power and the soul connected. Jennifer tried to concentrate on anything else. Her mind was gibbering in terror at
    what was happening. It wasn’t possible, it kept saying.

    This wasn’t happening.

    Even as her soul was poked and prodded, Jennifer had to hold onto her mind. She had to stay sane. She thought of her mother and her father waiting for her at home. She had to protect them now. More then ever she had to protect them.

    The thoughts were driven from her head, as the hand sliced the connections between the power and her soul.

    The cuts and bruises, she had felt over the years, were nothing compared to this. Even being stabbed by a burning sword was comfortable to the pain that raced through her. Those had only happened to the body, a body could heal. It would be scared, and ache in winter, but it could heal.

    Her soul was torn.

    Every place that the power had made a connection was torn open. Everywhere the power touched her soul, was torn. Messenger may have been trying to be gentle, but he wanted the power unharmed. If he had to make a cut, it was Jennifer’s soul that was cut. If something had to be torn, it was Jennifer who bled. It was Jennifer who screamed.

    Messenger finally removed his hand. Jennifer briefly saw a glowing ball of light in the palm of his hand. She collapsed on the ground once more. Her soul, her mind unable to handle what had happened.

    She was wearing her ordinary clothes again. Faded old blue jeans, a thick leather jacket, ear muffs, and thin woolen gloves. Nothing special about them, nothing special about her. Just another underage girl who looked like she had had too much to drink, and couldn’t make it home.

    “I know this may seem cruel,” he said leaning over her. “But believe me it had to be done. Go home and be with your family.”

    Jennifer just watched him out of her unblinking eyes as he vanished into the night.

    ***

    Later, she didn’t know how long, Jennifer got to her feet. She was weak, exhausted, empty, and in pain. Her body was fine. The bruises she had she could deal with. But her soul, her mind felt shredded. She couldn’t think clearly. Only two things kept going through her mind. Don’t stay still, was one of them. She had to get out of the alley. The other was louder, more insistent, protect your family.

    Staggering she left the alley. The street was alive with people. Many of them in costumes. All of them going to or from some Halloween party, enjoying the Friday night. Jennifer tried to walk properly. Not drawing attention to herself. The past two years she had been obsessed with not drawing attention to herself. With her body virtually healed trying to walk in a straight line should be easy.

    But her mind wasn't in it. It was trying to figure out what happened. One moment powerful, a Princess of the world, protector of reality. The next, a little girl again, who had been thrown to the wolves. How could she protect her family?

    Her soul ached. It felt like different. Empty almost. The power had been a part of it for so long, now it was gone. The only thing in her now, was, her. It didn't feel like it would be enough.

    She could still feel Messengers hand in her chest. That was the worst. It had touched her soul, tore it apart, as if it was inconvenient. The wounds he had caused it burned. You shouldn't be able to feel your soul. A physical person shouldn't be able to tear it up. It was filthy. Unnatural.

    Wrong.

    As she clutched her body, hunched over, trying to protect it from the world, she barely noticed what was happening around her.

    Raiders had circled her. Normally they wouldn't appear in the open. Only Raider Lords could pass themselves off as humans. But this was Halloween. People would see their malformed limbs, unnatural blotchy skin, even the tails and tentacles as some elaborate costume. They walked beside her, in front of her, and behind her, as if they weren't aware of each other.

    Jennifer saw them glancing at each other, watching her, and the crowd, out of their too many eyes. Shadows moved on the sidewalk, leering at her, with their insane faces. They watched her, and waited to strike. Lord Isling had called out all his forces. She wasn't going to make it home alive.

    They'd attack soon, not caring about the crowd. They knew the Guardians would make whatever happened seem like a natural occurrence. The dead would remain dead, but the masquerade would continue. They'd mourn her, and any others once a year in their elaborate ceremonies, but she'd still be dead.

    Something small and fast flew past her face. It whispered in her ear, "Death."

    She couldn't wait any longer, she ran.

    A tall, thin, boneless creature, a mockery of a man, tried to stop her, as she bolted into traffic. If she had been Winter Princess, she would have ripped its tentacles off. But she wasn't strong enough now. As it tried to capture her with its too long arm, she ducked and slid under its legs.

    She scrambled back to her feet and charged into the heavy traffic. Cars honked, and brakes squealed, as she tried not to be run over. It would be a quicker death under a cars wheel, but she didn't want to die. If she could make it home, she could convince her parents to flee the city. She would make them leave, somehow. If they could just get to another part of the country, the Raider Lords wouldn't know her there. She'd just be another human.

    She had to get her family away from Toronto.

    A loud bang, and the sound of crumpled metal rose up behind her. A car must have hit a hard Raider. She couldn't risk looking back. Jumping over the hood of a stopped car she narrowly missed being run over by a truck.

    Finally she made it to the other side of the road. Turning to run down the sidewalk and slammed into a small man. Jennifer started screaming.

    The man adjusted his glasses with one hand. His other hand grabbed Jennifer's arm. She beat at him with her free hand, and kicked him as hard as she could. The man was actually shorter than her own tiny five foot four body. He also looked like a hard breeze could knock him over. Despite this he didn't even blink as she slammed her hand into face, or flinch as she broke her toes kicking his legs.

    He picked her up in his arms and casually tossed her far into an alley. As she flew through the air, she thought she heard someone yelling, then screams.

    Any other sounds were cut off as she hit the ground. She knew enough to keep her body limp, and tried to roll as soon as her body was on the ground. Protecting her head with her arms, her jacket and jeans were ripped and shredded as she slide and rolled on the pavement.

    Jessica stopped rolling by hitting a wall. She felt her bruised shoulder dislocate. She started screaming again.

    "Jessica," a pleasant voice called out. "I've waited so long for this moment," Lord Isling said walking down the alley. His small, nerdy physical form walked down the alley. His servants, inhuman, unintelligent Raiders marched just behind him.

    Jessica got to her feet. She drew her hunting knife from its sheath. She wasn't going to let them take her so easily.

    "Is this the point where I say, 'do you really think that will do you any good?'" Lord Isling asked. "I have only recently started watching your tv, and I don't think I know all my lines."

    She didn't answer him. She could probably keep him talking for hours. The Raider Lords where intelligent, but they weren't rational. They were chaos. They wanted to be entertained. She had seen what they considered entertainment. She wouldn't let that happen to her.

    Lord Isling had expected her to try to kill herself. She could here the shadow Raider breathing behind her. It would stop the knife from plunging into her heart, or slicing her wrist. They knew she would consider that the only rational choice.

    So she improvised.

    Jessica spun around, striking at the shadow Raider with the knife. It wouldn't hurt the creature, but the Raider was a simple animal. It would see the attack and react accordingly.

    She felt the creatures silver claws pierce her body. The six long, jagged claws, destroyed everything in their path. There was no way she would be taken alive.

    Jessica coughed, and started to laugh, blood dripped from her mouth. She could hear Lord Isling screaming in fury behind her. She couldn't save her parents. But she hadn't let Lord Isling have a total victory. Maybe she'd see her brother. She hoped he'd be waiting for her. They could wait for their parents together.

    As her blood drained out of her body, she hoped her parents deaths would be just as quick.
     
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