The Creep Show Issue
Quick as a Flash - Week 4
Fact and Fiction
Welcome to the Creep Show issue!
One of a fiction writer's many jobs is to build tension for a purpose. In horror, that purpose is often to unnerve the reader and play with fears and anxieties. Similar to comedy, I think there's a fine line between success and trying too hard. And walking that line for the entirety of a story is something that unnerves and induces anxiety for me! This is exactly why I don't aspire to be a horror writer of any kind and why I admire those that do.
That said, I still sometimes aim for haunted characters or inescapable nightmare scenarios. And I still use traditionally spooky elements for other purposes. After all, horror has leaked into pretty much every other genre at this point.
So while I’m not a horror writer, and these aren’t explicitly written to make you soil yourself, I hope you enjoy these seasonal offerings!
I'll be taking a break for the next week or two, but please, if you have any thoughts on this or previous issues, feel free to click that word bubble at the bottom and leave a comment. This break will be the perfect time for me to use your feedback to improve the newsletter, and knowing what you've liked or would like to see different will help a lot!
Failure to Follow Directions
“Don’t open the green drawer,” my boss had said.
So naturally, I did. Inside was a note telling me to leave and never come back. Clipped to it was a picture of me reading the message. Nobody looked or spoke to me after that, even outside the office. I may as well have been dead.
Contest of Victims
Jessica smiled, pulling down her turtleneck, revealing a faded set of fang marks. “Vampire.”
Pete smirked, rolling up a pant leg to show a savage row of claw marks. “Werewolf.”
They turned to Tony, who tossed a file onto the table, dozens of forms sliding out of it. “IRS agent.”
Avoid Becoming the Trope
Dog walker has become a very lucrative business opportunity in this city, thanks to the recent string of murders. Nobody wants to take Rover out on walkies when it means you might trip over a dead body.
Or worse, become a victim.
For twenty years, the nightmare showed up in my dreams, demanding to go on rides across the moonlit countryside. If I refuse, she rears back and snorts flames in my direction, wild gossamer mane blowing in the wind. So each night, I am the reluctant horseman, and she is my steed.
He claimed to be a voracious reader, much to everyone’s chagrin.
“People claim to always be reading yet never pick up a book,” they said, rolling their eyes.
Then they fell over, the spiritual contents of their brains eaten. Turns out, he was not a reader of books but of minds.
Trick or Treat
On a sunny afternoon, two siblings raced into the forest to play. This was in spite of the many lectures from their weary mothers who deemed the forest unsafe for children but never gave a reason why.
The children's game of tag was soon interrupted by the fabled confectionery witch who claimed to live in a candy house that could move from forest to forest. She offered them each a caramel apple and invited them to see her home, play with her cats, and eat some sweets. Of course, the siblings accepted.
When they arrived, they sat upon her sofa. They took turns beckoning the half-dozen cats over to them, laughing when they were successful and gifted with sandpaper tongue kisses.
The witch came into the room, drying her hands on a cloth. “One of you will have to help me,” she said, voice full of honey. “Who will it be?”
The brother pointed to his older sister, claiming that she had to since she was a girl.
Still too tired from their running around to argue, the sister agreed to help. How hard could it be?
Fifteen minutes later, the witch reentered the room with more candy than the boy had ever seen. He fed upon it until his stomach hurt.
“Figures that the pigheaded boy eats like one too,” muttered the witch. But when asked what was said, she simply patted the boy’s head and pressed him into eating more. “Your sister and I already had our share of lunch in the kitchen. These leftovers are for you.”
When it started getting late, the witch had shoved the boy out the door, forcing a bag with the remaining treats into his hands. “Take it all with you,” she said.
"Your sister?" the witch asked when pressed on the other sibling's whereabouts. "She volunteered to help me clean up. She will catch up with you soon. Go home, so your parents don't worry about the both of you."
Something about that wasn’t right. It wasn’t until he was halfway home, sucking on a candy cane, that he was struck with why he sensed his sister’s presence but did not see her following him back. He looked into the bag, taking several shuddering breaths.
Two jawbreakers gazed back at him, offering him a sad rock candy frown.