Ink After Dark

Where Imagination and Community Collide

Monster Mash 2016 – Winners

Thank you all for participating in our second Monster Mash challenge! This year we challenged you with lines from the masters of literary horror (yes, Macbeth IS a horror story) and you responded with dark, twisted, terrifying literary journeys.

Now, without further ado…

Colin D Smith | @colin_d_smith
Jessica West | @West1Jess
Dave James Ashton | @davejamesashton
Bryan Taylor | The Rogue Tinker
Miranda Kat | @PurpleQueenNL
Lizzie Koch | @Lizzie_Koch
Lisa McCourt Hollar |  @jezri1
Mark Ethridge
Nellie Batz | @solimond



Colin D Smith | @colin_d_smith



The first writer to pick up the challenge gauntlet, Colin brought us a sweetly terrifying tale of a rogue dentist, and now we’re going to spend the next decade terrified of teeth cleanings and cavities…

“By the swelling of your gums, gingivitis this way comes!” Dr. Lebnitz picked and prodded at Micah’s teeth with his shepherd’s hook. “And you have the beginnings of a cavity, too.”

Micah could feel trickles of sweat on the back of his neck.

“Shall we fill the cavity?” Lebnitz’s masked face looked down on Micah, his eyebrows raised as if this was not a rhetorical question. Micah tried shaking his head anyway. Lebnitz picked up his drill. Micah’s arms and legs pulled against the straps. The drill sprang to life with a shrill whirring sound…





The Rogue Tinker


Bored with the same ol’ fantasies and daydreams? This tale turns the spotlight on the deepest, darkest thoughts lurking in the mind with a drug that allows people to share thoughts. Going for a sensory ride on a friend’s intimate fantasies catches the MC’s attention. Who would expect her circle of friends to take her along for her own illusory murder?

Pictures rattled, but the music couldn’t shake the apathy from Rosa’s weary soul. Glancing around at the friends around her, she took another drink from a plastic cup. The unnamed liquor tasted tropical, a far cry from the suburban mini mansion they had broken into. The front door slammed open, and in case it was the homeowners or the police, she started to bolt from the scene. Instead, Max stomped inside with more beer and a bag of snacks.

“Sure know how to scare a girl, dude.” she said as he wiped his feet in the entry. He shrugged, trudging around the overloaded coach of card players.

Closing the door behind him, she asked the usual line. “Were you born in a barn?” It even sounded flat to her; she just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm.

“This isn’t my barn!” he responded playfully, and nodded his head toward the kitchen.

Once there, Rosa helped Max put the beer in the taken over fridge. He kept silent, waiting until Rosa explained.

“It’s no big deal, I’m just…bored.”

“The party?”

“Life. Everything. The parties, the jobs, all of it.”

Max nodded. “Yeah, been there. Even the same daydreams over and over.”

“Exactly. I just need a change.”

“Lucky night, then. Got just the thing.” Max grinned as he fished a vial out of his pocket. “It’s new.”

“What is it?” She looked at the silvery powder skeptically as she took it.

“One of those new quantum drugs. Called Tangle. Problem with your imagination, it’s always yours. Same you, same fantasies. This stuff lets you ride other people’s.”

“Mind reading? Come on.” Rosa fidgeted with the vial, but couldn’t quite hand it back.

“No, people have to let you. They take another kind, and it connects neurotransmitters or something.”


“Don’t know. Guess to them it’s like putting your brain inside a trench coat you can fling open. It’ll be different, guarantee.”

She snorted a dose, and moments later, she looked up at him. “That’s odd.”

Max replied, but she didn’t hear. Her brain only knew the fantasy. Exhilarating, she could feel every fingertip on her body as if it was real. Beads of sweat rose under hot stadium lights before the skin cooled under each affectionate touch. Her partners’ sweet breath mixed with the scent of freshly cut grass, while a crowd cheered.

Rosa broke free of the fantasy, and found Max grinning at her. Blushing, she looked down and wrapped her jacket tightly. Trying to act nonchalant, she yelled out to the partygoers. “You guys are sick!” Nobody was quite sure who she was talking to, but they laughed all the same.

Max grabbed a drink and moved toward the others. “You’ll probably get a few more tonight.”

The party went on, filled with reckless disregard for the borrowed home. The usual people were in their normal places: Sherry stood singing on a table, and Rick passed out in a makeshift hammock. While watching chair jousting, Rosa felt another fantasy coming on. She hid in an upstairs bathroom to be alone, with no audience this time.

This fantasy was different. She was crouched in bushes near the very house they were partying in, and a girl came out the front door. Helplessly, she joined the dreamer in sneaking up behind the girl and cracking her skull with a shovel. With a snap, another blow broke an ankle and sent the girl to the ground. The attacker laughed and stood over the helpless form, destroying the neck with the shovel. Rosa fought the scene, but remained trapped. The onslaught continued, with blows raining down on the corpse, tearing the girl’s leather jacket and deforming the face around brown eyes, now lost in the midst of black seas of infinity. Dark hair stained in ichor painted macabre brush strokes on the yard.

Rosa found herself back in her own body, and vomited into the sink, shaking in terror from the violence and gore. Tears streamed down, and she collapsed to the floor. The locked bathroom door rattled, and a knock followed.

“Man, hurry up in there.”

Rosa wiped her ruined makeup on an ornamental towel and gathered her composure to go back out to her closest friends. One of them was fantasizing about killing her, and that made tonight a whole lot different, guaranteed.

Congratulations, Colin and Rogue! Comment or message us via Twitter to claim your prizes.

READ ALL THE STORIES HERE AND HERE. (And be sure to let the authors know what you thought of their creepy tales.)

Thank you all for joining us. We hope to read you again for the next Ink After Dark challenge!




Monster Mash 2016 Prize Package

amazon   barnes-noble_coupons


The winner of Monster Mash 2016 will receive a $25 (or £25 for the UK) gift card for the book seller of choice.

A lucky second place winner will receive a $10 (or £10) gift card for the book seller of choice.

So what are you waiting for, get writing, let the Monster muse take hold.

Monster Mash 2016 The Hostess Edition





Monster Mash 2016


Monster Mash 2016

  • Flash Fiction Challenge
  • Submissions Accepted October 10-21
  • 500 Word Minimum / 750 Word Maximum
  • Choose one of the classic literary horror phrases below and use it EXACTLY in a story
“there is something at work in my soul” (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein)
“something wicked this way comes” (Shakespeare, Macbeth)
“in the midst of black seas of infinity” (H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu)


  • Post your story in the comments below.
    • Include your twitter handle
    • Include the word count
  • Use the hashtag #IADMM2016 to share this event and your stories
  • Prize packages announced October 16
  • Winners announced October 30


Love Bites 2016 WINNERS

2016 Love Bytes

Fourteen Anti-Valentine tales were delivered to our inbox, each of them dark, wicked, and vengeful. They were everything we hoped for and more. Reading them was a delight and sharing them a joy. Judging them was an unspeakable torment, and for that, we thank you from the bottom of our depraved misshapen hearts! ❤


Third Place: Ailsa Abraham | @ailsaabraham 

  1. Laura – Revenge for Valentines is always good and a 200-year wait made this tale even sweeter.
  2. Lisa – When you plan something, make sure you do it right, especially vengeance.
  3. Lizzie – Loved the dark humour in this fiery Valentine revenge.
  4. Ruth – Aged to perfection, like a fine wine, this tale of revenge is bold and satisfying.

Second Place: Michael Wombat | @wombat37

  1. Laura – This took me on the best dark journey. Loved it!
  2. Lisa – Poetry, ancient history, and a need to sate vengeful passion with a black twist of fate.
  3. Lizzie – A deliciously dark tale right from the poetic start. Loved it!
  4. Ruth – Filled with vivid images, poetic language, and bloody vengeance!

First Place: Eric Martell | @drmagoo  

  1. Laura – Passion, betrayal, and a dead body. All I need in a Valentine’s tale. Excellent story.
  2. Lisa – I was entranced from the title on. A tale of pure evil that teaches me never, ever, to presume. Deliciously dark and twisted.
  3. Lizzie – Ooh, I loved the grim and matter-of-fact way he dealt with his betrayer in this brilliant story!
  4. Ruth – When this apparent grieving widower goes from bitter to vindictive and embarks on a smartly planned journey of payback, the enormity of his monstrosity left me speechless!


Entrants: A hearty ‘Thank You’ to everyone who wrote, tweeted, and supported the entire Love Bites cast and crew.

Winners: Lisa will contact you via DM to settle up the prize accounts.


Love Bites 2016 Prize Package

This year’s prizes come to us from Amaranth Alchemy, run by mother and daughter team Lisa and Bekah Shambrook. Their art breathes new life into damaged and discarded books.

2016 Love Bytes Prizes

1st prize: ‘Poems of Robert Browning’ bookspine bookmark, Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ bookpage bookmark and ‘Sun’ Dictionary bookpage necklace.

2nd prize: Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ bookpage bookmark and Beatrix Potter’s ‘Tale of Two Bad Mice’ bookpage necklace.

3rd prize: Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ bookpage bookmark and Bram Stoker’s Dracula bookpage bookmark.

Love Bites 2016

2016 Love Bytes


  • Flash Fiction Challenge
  • Theme: Thwarted Love OR Vengeful Love
  • Submissions Accepted: January 29 – February 12, 2016
  • Word Count: 500 Word Minimum / 750 Word Maximum
  • Prize Package Announced: February 5, 2016
  • Winners Announced: February 14, 2016
  • Post stories in comment box below with word count and Twitter handle (or other way to notify you of victory).
  • Have questions? Contact one of our challenge hostesses: Lizzie, Lisa, Laura, Ruth


Tipsy Santa 2015 – Winner

Woohoo! You guys brought the drunken mayhem to the holiday seasons, with stories ranging from humor to sadness to terror. Thank you all for participating in our second challenge, and without further ado…

Mark Ethridge | @LurchMunster
Bill Engleson | @billmelaterplea
Silver James | @SilverJames_
Miranda Kate | @PurpleQueenNL
Janet Eckford | @JanetEckford
The Rogue Tinker | @BryantheTinker
Louisa Bacio | @LouisaBacio
Eric Martell | @drmagoo
Emily Clayton | @emilyiswriting
Dave James Ashton | @davejamesashton


We enjoyed reading through the stories and found something to giggle over in every entry. Then it was time to get down to work. We made a list, checked it twice, and after an epic Naughty vs Nice battle, we whittled it down to one winner.

Congratulations to Bryan Taylor (aka The Rogue Tinker), who gave us a story brimming with party guests, holiday hopes, and an inebriated Santa Claus likely to haunt our dreams for many a long winter night.




The Rogue Tinker | @BryantheTinker

“Company Claus”

This story not only tickled the funny bone, it struck a chord that sounded remarkably like, “Oh dear God, this could actually happen.” Not that Santa would show up, but that someone might start drunkenly spilling “company secrets” at the Christmas party. Oh, the horror of a more-than-tipsy and terribly antagonistic holiday icon who is woefully willing to spill your shortcomings, past and present.

We loved the humor, the edge of desperation that crawls through the crowd as naughty activities are divulged, and the ending zing of a certain coworker being the “right” kind of naughty. Oh, Santa… you dirty old man.

Cheers to a deliciously clever holiday tale, Bryan!


607 words

Company Claus

“…And the profits of the 3rd quarter barely covered the downturn from the global market in the 4th…” droned the middle manager tasked with giving the state of the company address. No doubt, some transparent excuse for a lack of bonuses for the staff again this year. I stopped listening and made my way to the table festooned with tacky decorations and pot-luck dishes.

In through the conference room door came a late arrival in a red sweater. His white beard immediately ruled him out of the sales team, and as he stepped into the room, he blinked at the faces turned his way, and let out a bellowing belch that seemed to vibrate the air. Unashamed, he drew a flask from behind his back and raised it in a salute to the astonished crowd before raising it to his lips. His upturned face turned crestfallen when it turned out to be empty, and he shook it over his mouth in the vain hope for more.

“I seem to be out of sugar plum brandy. How’s the punch?” he staggered toward the feasting table, and to my horror, closer to me.

The manager whose speech had been so memorably interrupted bellowed over the crowd, anger turning his face crimson and making him shake so hard that his jowls seemed made of jelly. “Of all the impropriety! You’re fired!”

“Impropriety, Nathaniel? You of all people? Shove it, or I’ll tell all these nice people or your wife about how your secretary takes your…” he hiccupped loudly before finishing “…dictation. Hmm, I suppose I just did. Oh well, now what have we here?”

The onlookers froze in shock and horror, before a wave of angry amusement swept through the room. Furtive glances darted back and forth between a pair of people who looked like they wished they could melt away. The executive assistant was the first to react, and left the room without looking anyone in the eye. Due to the speech, the discount holiday music had been turned off, so there was no noise to cover up the different reactions to the internal scandal of the year.

One ambitious man started to approach the sloshed snacker, arms extended in supplication. One twinkling eye turned his way, and he stopped cold. The bearded man started filling a pair of cups with punch. “I wouldn’t, little Francis Walter. After all, you wouldn’t want your bogus expense reports or your tattling to make the Vice Presidents look bad coming to light.” Frank paled and stepped back, but not fast enough to save his path up the corporate ladder.

After taking a drink, he frowned mightily. “Bah, this is kid’s stuff. I’m out of here. But you all, I’m watching you. Not at all in the spirit of the season, let me tell you.”

He leaned closer to me and gave me a wink. Whispering conspiratorially, he nudged me with his elbow. “You, though, should definitely go talk to Natalie. She’s on the right kind of naughty list, if you know what I mean.”

With that, he staggered back out the door the way he had come, leaving a scene of frigid shock and memorable chaos in his wake.

There seemed no saving the company party after his departure. Though some tried, there was no drawing attention back to any speeches or team building activities. I left shortly after, but not before looking at Natalie in a new light. As I was leaving, I heard one voice cut through the din that I don’t believe was quite right. “I guess those IT guys really do know everything that happens on the network.”

In closing, the Ink After Dark crew wishes you and yours the sweetest of whatever winter holiday it is you choose to celebrate!

Tipsy Santa 2015 Prize Package

Holiday Prize


One lucky winner will receive a two month subscription to One Stop For Writers.

What’s that? You don’t know what OSFW is? Why, only the handiest writer’s companion an inkslinger could hope for. It’s an powerhouse online library supplying writers with inspiration, motivation, and descriptions. Perfect for that story you’re going to attack come New Year’s Day!

Tipsy Santa 2015

INK AFTER DARK is proud to host …

Tipsy Santa 2015

  • Flash Fiction Challenge
  • Submissions Accepted December 4-18
  • 500 Word Minimum / 750 Word Maximum
  • Post stories in comment box below with word count and Twitter handle (or other way to notify you of victory).


THEME ELEMENTS: Story must include both of the following:
  1. A winter holiday setting (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc)
  2. A tipsy winter holiday character (Santa, Pere Noel, Krampus, etc)
  • Use the hashtag ‪#‎IADTS2015‬ to share this event and your stories
  • Prize packages announced December 11
  • Winners announced December 21


Questions? Give us a holler in the comment box below or on Twitter:

Monster Mash 2015 – Winners

Thank you to everyone who came out and participated in Ink After Dark’s Monster Mash event, and made our first flash challenge here a wonderful success! Props to all of our writers for taking our title prompts and running every which way with them.


Siobhan Muir | @SiobhanMuir R.B. McConnell | @BunnyDarkness
 @Tarcarius  @wombat37
Dave James Ashton | @davejamesashton Matt Sloan | @falcon_feathers
Pattyann McCarthy | @PattyannMc Miranda Kate | @PurpleQueenNL
R.B. McConnell | @BunnyDarkness Lyndsay E. Gilbert | @LyndsayEGilbert
Nellie Batz | @solimond Mark Ethridge | @LurchMunster
The Rogue Tinker | @BryantheTinker Dave James Ashton | @davejamesashton
Pattyann McCarthy | @PattyannMc
Jason Lefthand | @jasonlefthand
Eric Martell | @drmagoo
Kelly Heinen | @Aightball
The Rogue Tinker | @BryantheTinker
Amber Draeger | @adraeger
M T Decker | @mishmhem


It’s no exaggeration to say you gave us judging fits. With so much inky goodness to ponder, there was some serious discussion to be had as we worked our way down to ONE winner in each category (*sob*). You all gave us wonderful and creative stories to read, and we thank you again for joining us. Continue reading “Monster Mash 2015 – Winners”

Monster Mash Hostess Memo

By now, you’ve probably made your choice between Light and Dark.

Perhaps you’ve even picked your prompt.

We had devilish fun creating this challenge and can’t wait to read your stories.

As with everything we do here at Ink After Dark, choosing an unexpected prompt twist was a joint effort. The bonus: it was as easy as 1 – 2 – 3.

  1. Brainstorm: We threw a bunch of crazy ideas against the wall and grinned like knuckleheads when one stuck.
  2. Draft: Next, it was time to un-cage our imaginations and whip up a batch of scary and zany titles.
  3. Vote: Finally, we got democratic, set up a poll, and voted for our favorites.

We worked hard to offer up the kind of strange brew prompts that would enable you to bring some monstrous Halloween fun to life.

To reward ourselves for a job well done, each of us chose a title from the cutting floor and used it to craft our very own Monster Mash story. We’ll be posting them this week in the comment box below. 😉

blood handprint

Monster Mash Prize Packages

What’s in the Monster Mash Winner’s Baskets?

Will it be Tricks or Treats?





  • A digital copy of On Writing Horror by Mort Castle
  • A digital copy of 500 Ways To Tell A Better Story by Chuck Wendig
  • A $5 Starbucks card
  • The brainstorming software Scapple


  • A digital copy of Writing Monsters by Philip Athans
  • A digital copy of Character Writing Prompt: Villains, Heroes, and Hams
  • A $5 Starbucks card
  • The brainstorming software Scapple

Monster Mash DARK

Monster Mash 2015

Event Overview

  • Flash Fiction Challenge
  • Submissions Accepted October 12-23
  • 500 Word Minimum to 750 Word Maximum
  • Use the hashtag #IADMM2015 to share this event and your stories
  • Prize packages announced October 16
  • Winners announced October 30

How To Participate

Choose a title below, write a story for it, and post it in the comment box following this formula:

  1. Twitter Handle
  2. Word Count
  3. Title
  4. Story

Dark Titles: Pick Your Poison

  • Changeling’s Child
  • Cold Storage, Warm Living
  • Crossing the Boneyard
  • Death Interrupted
  • Eidolon Way
  • In the Dark, They Sing


Monster Mash LIGHT

Monster Mash 2015

Event Overview

  • Flash Fiction Challenge
  • Submissions Accepted October 12-23
  • 500 Word Minimum to 750 Word Maximum
  • Use the hashtag #IADMM2015 to share this event and your stories
  • Prize packages announced October 16
  • Winners announced October 30

How To Participate

Choose a title below, write a story for it, and post it in the comment box following this formula:

  1. Twitter Handle
  2. Word Count
  3. Title
  4. Story

Light Titles: Dig Your Grave

  • Beautiful Teeth
  • I’m No Monster
  • Mortician’s Ball
  • Mummy Knows Best
  • You Call This ‘Fun Size?’
  • Zombie Jamboree

Monster Mash Event HQ

INK AFTER DARK is proud to host …

Monster Mash 2015

  • Flash Fiction Challenge
  • Submissions Accepted October 12-23
  • 500 Word Minimum / 750 Word Maximum
  • Choose a title from one of the categories below and write a story for it
    • You may write one story for each category
  • Use the hashtag #IADMM2015 to share this event and your stories
  • Prize packages announced October 16
  • Winners announced October 30



  • Changeling’s Child
  • Cold Storage, Warm Living
  • Crossing the Boneyard
  • Death Interrupted
  • Eidolon Way
  • In the Dark, They Sing



  • Beautiful Teeth
  • I’m No Monster
  • Mortician’s Ball
  • Mummy Knows Best
  • You Call This ‘Fun Size?’
  • Zombie Jamboree


Post your twitter handle and story in the comment box of the corresponding category link:

  • Enter LIGHT stories here beginning October 12
  • Enter DARK stories here beginning October 12


If you’d like to be notified when MONSTER MASH submissions go live, add your twitter handle or email address in the comments box below. 🙂



Monster Mash

Ink After Dark is throwing a Halloween party and you’re invited!


When: Contest details go live Friday, October 9, 2015

Where: Right here on Ink After Dark


2015 Monster Mash

Welcome to Ink After Dark

Fellow Inkslingers and Storytellers,

Welcome to Ink After Dark, newly constructed home of seasonal flash fiction events and community writing adventures.

Our mission is to serve our writing community by maintaining a group project site.

With that in mind, we’ve gathered several cyclical blog hops under a collective roof.

Project creators can organize and run their ventures behind the scenes with guest passes.

We look forward to creating and writing beside you for many inky adventures to come!


Cheers, Laura, Cara, and Ruth 


IAD drinks

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