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|
|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.
Now the part you’ve waited patiently for…
*cue overly dramatic drum solo (rolls are for amateurs)*
Nellie Batz | @solimond
This story gives the reader a wonderful sense of innocence, which isn’t the easiest attribute to imbue in a tale that’s destined to take a wicked turn. Yet Gertie’s awkward toothiness endears us to her character, and puts us on her side as she deals with the dreaded boy-bully next door. As the story hits its climax and Gertie’s future is hinted at in a wicked set of canines, we can’t help but smile and root for this girl growing into her own heroine.
“You have beautiful teeth. It will only be a little longer before everything comes on.”
“Mooom, you always say that.” Gertie made a face as her mom smoothed her hair. “I hate them. They’re stupid.” She bared her teeth to the mirror, exposing the metal of braces. She stuck out her tongue. “I hate them. Anyway, I need to get to school.”
“Do you need your dad to pick you up? I could drive you.” Her mom ran a hand over her hair, giving a tug on the pig tails.
“No, I’m fine.” Gertie shrugged out from underneath her mom’s hand. “I’ll be fine. I gotta go.”
“Fine, fine. I’m feeling a little left out since you’re going to your first day of high school. That nice boy, William, can walk with you.”
Gertie scowled. “No, I don’t want to walk with him. He’s a jerk. He calls me names because of the braces.”
“Oh, he’s just being a boy. And a Masters boy at that. They were always a wild bunch. I remember growing up with his daddy and uncle. They tore things up.”
Gertie grumbled, grabbing her backpack. “I gotta GO!” She ignored her mother’s pout as she pushed out the door and down the steps before she was regaled with yet another story about her mother’s youth. Things were a lot different when she grew up compared to Gertie. Her mom was so pretty and she had been popular when she had been in school. When she was in school, she didn’t have to worry about being teased for having braces. Her teeth were beautiful.
“Hey, Metalface. Heading to school?” The boy was her age but he acted ten years younger.
“Go away, William.” Gertie rolled her eyes at William as he caught up with her, jogging.
“Don’t be like that. Dad said it might storm, so I figure if I stayed next to you, I’d be safe from any lightning.” He smirked at her.
“I think being a giant jerk would get more strikes than I would.” She threw him a scowl. “Go annoy someone else.”
“But you’re along the way and I thought I’d keep you company. Your mom was talking to mine about looking out for each other since there have been some strange people seen around the school.” He run a hand through shaggy hair.
“Geeeez! Like you ever listen to what your parents say. You usually do things opposite of what they say.”
“Yeah. But that’s okay. This time I don’t mind.” He beamed at her, flashing big teeth.”
Gertie stared at him sourly. Of course he has perfectly straight teeth. He’ll never need braces. He was a big fat jerk. “Leave me alone, William.”
“Don’t be mean, Braceface, I’m being nice.”
She spun around, pointing a finger in his face. “No, you are not! If you were being nice, you wouldn’t call me names. Calling people names is mean and making fun of me because I have braces. They aren’t going to be on forever, but I want you to SHUT. UP!” She growled at him before spinning on her heel, stomping down the sidewalk. Her mom kept talking about when she’d be interested in boys. After dealing with stupid William Masters, she didn’t want to have anything to do with boys. They were nothing but immature bullies. And she totally didn’t spit in his face. Stupid braces!
“Gertie. Hey! Hey, wait up!”
She snorted as he galloped after her like an ungainly dog.
“Hey, come on. Gertrude, talk to me.”
“GAH! What!” She spun around. “What do we have to talk about? We don’t share interests, we don’t share the same clubs. The only thing that we have that is similar is that our parents know each other and we go to the same school. That’s it. So I would appreciate it if you left me alone.” Gertie ground her teeth and felt a release of pressure.”
William flinched and reached a hand up to the thin line of blood that appeared on his cheek.
She gave a gasp, one hand reaching up to cover her mouth. She used her tongue to carefully probe before reaching and pulling pieces of braces out of her mouth. She stared at the metal and gave him an awkward smile. “Crap, I’m sorry.” Her tongue ran over the sharp fangs protruding down.
William stared and gave her a wide grin, showing his own sharp canines. “Don’t be. You have beautiful teeth.”
Matt Sloan | @falcon_feathers
“In the Dark, They Sing”
This story is an eloquent descent into pure madness. With one line in the second paragraph, “I put them there, after all,” this story goes full-on Tell-Tale Heart, only without any investigative forces to catch the killer. Eek! This character tends his garden of death as devoutly as any farmer. The threads of jealousy and guilt (whether the MC acknowledges them or not) woven throughout the story, lend weight to the steady descent into homicidal plotting. This tale is tight, well written, and elegantly creepy.
Word Count: 537
I can hear the dead again.
I wasn’t sure at first, but I know better now. I thought it to be something carried on the dusk breeze from the nearby town. Perhaps a pair of lovers, like those that stroll arm in arm down the lane on their way home from some memorable moment, their voices carrying across the fields and the hedgerows to invade my privacy. I thought it to be anything but the dead hidden on my land.
It began shortly after their burial. They called out for me in the darkness, as though lost and longing. You’d think they would hear each other and answer, but I know it’s me they’re looking for. I put them there, after all. I hid their bodies in the freshly turned soil, and the next night they began to call for me, and I ran out in my bare feet and the rain, thinking I mustn’t have finished the job properly.
But the soil lay unbroken, the earth as pure as the day I’d buried them.
They sing to me every night, beginning just behind the setting sun and carrying on until the morning cleanses the air and washes their souls away. In the day I find respite, managing a few hours sleep… but I dream about them. I dream about the day I came home to find her alone with him, and I reach for the shovel to put an end to things again. When I wake, I wait for sundown. I wait for their singing. Their voices are all I can hear.
Now, they call for company. A man came to the door yesterday, selling something or other and enquiring if my wife might be home. There he was; another man, asking after my wife. I told him he could find her in the field, and when he came across my threshold I struck him down. I sent him straight to find her. They’re together now, and yet they’re not content. They want someone else. I know that they want me, but they won’t have me, not yet at least.
Perhaps a pair of lovers will do. They’re bound to come soon, strolling arm in arm down the lane on their way home from some memorable moment. Perhaps they will be enough to satisfy my wife and her lover, and the salesman that knocked on my door. I can hear them coming now, their voices joyous and full of life, carried on the breeze to invade my privacy.
They’re getting closer now; they’re young, deeply in love, as my wife and I once were. I’ll step outside, play the old man; I’ll invite them for tea. I’ll wait for them to cross my threshold, and invite them to meet Marie. She’ll be out in the field, as she always is. It will be quick; I won’t even have to put the kettle on.
I place my hand on the cold metal handle of the door; I pause to catch my breath. It creaks as it opens, and I step out into the cool night air. If my wife and her lover want company, they shall have it. But they won’t have me.
Not yet, at least.
Congratulations to our winners, Nellie and Matt. Sing their praises across the interwebs! Nellie and Matt, please DM us via Twitter (@caramichaels, @bullishink, or @lejamez) to collect your well-earned prize packs.
Writers, we hope to see you again in December for our next challenge, Tipsy Santa!