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Monthly Short Story Contest > OCTOBER - THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

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message 1: by Rebecca (last edited Oct 23, 2017 06:19PM) (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments Things that go Bump in the Night
Theme: Fear of the unseen

Have you ever laid awake listening to unfamiliar sounds, your imagination coming up with all kinds or horrors it might be? October’s story invites you to explore how the unseen can cause us fear. Sometimes the unseen it is the result of an over-active imagination; other times it is real.

What causes your protagonist to be afraid?

4 Elements to be included:
- A shadow
- An inexplicable sound
- A peculiar smell
- A taste

Setting – any

Plot – your choice

Length: 500 to 1,000 Words

Submission deadline: Friday October 27th 2017

Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Crime, Comedy, Romance, or a mixture (BASICALLY, anything but erotica)

Purpose -
Some fiction writers are looking to win a short story contest, keeping in touch with making deadlines, and/or simply sharpening the skill of writing fiction. The main purpose of this contest is to sharpen plot and character skills, collect your own short stories, receive good feedback, make a good connection with other writers, and take a short break from your current novel to get a fresh view when you return to it.

Rules and Directions -
* Type in English - a minimum of 500 words; a maximum of 1,000 words; no erotica, no profanity.

* Post your title, by line, and word count total in the first line of your story posting.

* Writers are responsible for their own copyright. Authors keep all rights. PRIVACY POLICY IS ENFORCED. COPYRIGHTS AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS BELONG TO INDIVIDUAL AUTHORS. THIS CONTEST DOES NOT GRANT ANY PERSON THE RIGHT OR LICENSE TO COPY OR USE OTHER STORIES. EACH STORY IS PROTECTED BY THE COPYRIGHT OF THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR.

* ONE entry per person. It must be writer's original work, a final revision, and a new piece of writing. Please do not delete and re-post since this becomes confusing to the readers. Try to post your final revision.

Judging: The story will be judged on creativity, proper grammar, good punctuation, and overall good quality for story.

Voting: Please vote for first, second, and third place. Votes are tallied as follows:
First place: 3 points
Second Place: 2 points
Third Place: 1 point

You are not allowed to vote for yourself. If posting this month, you MUST vote, in order for your story to remain eligible.

Contest opens 10/01/2017 and closes 10/27/2017

Entries must be submitted by midnight on 10/27/2017. Voting will begin at 12:01 am 10/28/2017 and will close at midnight on 10/30/2017. All times are Central Standard Time. Winners will be announced 10/31/2017 by 9pm.

Be unexpected.


message 2: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 950 comments Mod
Nice! I'm looking forward to this challenge.


message 3: by Lynette (new)

Lynette White (lynettewhite) | 309 comments After having just written another paranormal story for the 31 days anthology I think I can whip something up. This could be a fun one for this imaginative group.


message 4: by Hákon (new)

Hákon Gunnarsson | 42 comments Interesting challenge.


message 5: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments Good. I'm glad to have peaked some interest. I'm looking forward to reading the stories.


message 6: by David (new)

David Brown | 139 comments This is one right up my alley. Fun!


message 7: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments There was a full moon a couple nights ago and the limbs of the old maple tree blew in the winds, scratching at my window...or at least I think it was the tree. Hope you are having fun crafting a story.


message 8: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments A very creative twist on the theme, David. :-)


message 9: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 5 comments Rebecca and others,
Thanks.. Excuse me for stepping out of the parameters, but I have been known to do that on occasion - big grin.
David Russell


message 10: by Lynette (new)

Lynette White (lynettewhite) | 309 comments looks a little quiet in here. We must all be thinking hard on this one.


message 11: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 950 comments Mod
I was thinking that myself. I feel that inspiration is around the corner though.


message 12: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments It was during the wee hours that something disturbed my sleep. It seemed to happen with increasing regularity, so I vowed to stay awake the next night to see if I could figure out what was happening. Around 2 am, there was a single loud thump from upstairs. "Did you hear that?" my husband asked...true story. A little inspiration.


message 13: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 950 comments Mod
Lunar Lantern Restaurant
908 words

I heard the familiar jingle advertising the Lunar Lantern restaurant. My mouth watered at the prospect of eating tortellini with a side of freshly tossed salad smothered in house dressing.

“Sweetie, I’d like to try that Italian restaurant tonight. You know – the one we keep talking about?”

“Agnes, I don’t want to go to ANY restaurant that sets cat traps in hopes of putting felines on the menu!”

“Listen, Rodney, you know good and well that was the Little China Buffet! Remember when I showed you the Facebook video of the wiggling worms in the crab legs? It’s that restaurant you’re thinking of.”

“That’s right. Do you feel like going to Lunar Lantern tonight and make it a date night?”

“Sure, sweetie,” I said as I put my arms around him and snuggled into his chest.

It was as if someone had turned a dial to speed up time. The hour was getting late. We spruced ourselves up, got in our truck, and headed for the historic downtown. The autumn wind kicked up the leaves as we parked the truck. We noticed the absence of other people except for the silent historic statues nearby. The street lights caused exaggerated shadows.

The neon sign for Lunar Lantern was partially in disrepair since it was missing the “T” and kept blinking. The chintzy sound of accordion music greeted us before we opened the doors. After entering, we stood there waiting for someone to seat us. I noticed that the restaurant showed signs of neglect starting with the cob webs in the corners and the scattered leaves on the floor. Were those dirty dishes stacked high on a cart a few feet from us? There was also the unusual smell of Italian spices mixed with…dare I say formaldehyde?

“Excusa me, please. Follow me,” said the owner Carlos Martinelli. I recognized him from the commercial, although he seemed much older in person. He seated us in a booth and handed us menus. He returned to the table with our ice waters and waited patiently for our orders.

“I’ll have the three cheese tortellini and an iced tea,” I said as Mr. Martinelli scribbled on his pad.

“I’ll try the spaghetti and giant meat balls and an iced tea. We’ll also have the large bowl of tossed salad,” said Rodney. Mr. Martinelli nodded then collected the menus. He disappeared into the kitchen. We became aware that we didn’t see any restaurant help, not one employee. The chintzy accordion music continued to play in the background; it occasionally sounded like a record that skipped. There was plenty of clatter in the kitchen.

“Oh, no, Mama!” exclaimed Mr. Martinelli. We wondered what that was about. He was out in no time with our dinner on a cart. He placed our entrees in front of us with the large salad bowl in the center. “Enjoy!” he said with a stiff smile.

I took the tongs and dished out some salad on my salad plate. When I placed the tongs back in the bowl, I took a closer look at what I thought was a large green olive. It now looked more like an eyeball. Instead of making a scene, I took my napkin and covered it to put on the side. I didn’t want to spoil this date night. Rodney gave himself a generous portion of salad. Should I say something? It was as if I lost my voice. He swirled his spaghetti with his fork and shoved it in his mouth. The spaghetti sauce literally looked too bloody. It dripped down his chin. He just grinned with his mouth full and kept chewing. He didn’t complain about the taste; I didn’t say anything.

I turned my attention to my tortellini. It tasted like heaven. The cheese and alfredo sauce caressed my tongue. I savored the taste before I swallowed. I ate half of my entrée when I noticed some wiggling movement in my tortellini sauce. Could it be…worms?

“Oh, my gosh!” I exclaimed as I grabbed my mouth and ran to find a restroom to vomit. The need to expel my dinner oddly left me as I gazed into the open kitchen door. A woman sat at the counter with a spoon in her hand. A feeling of curiosity and dread filled me as I entered the kitchen. I realized that she was Mrs. Bianca Martinelli that I had also seen in the commercial for Lunar Lantern. “Mrs. Martinelli, I want to file a formal complaint about the dinners we’ve been served.” I place my hand on her arm which felt oddly cold. When she didn’t move, I came closer to look in her face. I stared into the face of a corpse that was once Mrs. Martinelli. She was missing an eyeball. worms were crawling out of her nose and mouth and dropping into a bowl of tortellini alfredo. Mr. Martinelli couldn’t part with his wife. He had her preserved, dressed, and posed as a cook in the kitchen. My scream didn’t phase Rodney who was still eating his spaghetti and meat balls. The kitchen door swung closed. Mr. Martinelli picked up a butcher’s knife and came toward me. I turned to run. That’s when everything went black.

I woke from my sleep with a jolt. “Happy Halloween, sweetie pie,” Rodney said as he came to sit on the side of the bed. “What would you like for breakfast?”

“A glass of Alka-Seltzer please.”


message 14: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments Great, Glenda. I wrote gushing words, but lost it so 'great" will have to do.


message 15: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 5 comments Glenda, that's quite a story. You have conflict for sure. Believability?

David Russell


message 16: by Glenda (last edited Oct 28, 2017 10:07AM) (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 950 comments Mod
David, if you caught it, it was a very bad dream. As far as believability, if you make your way down to Key West and take a tourist trolley ( like we did in 1983 on our honeymoon) you will hear a tale of a woman who died, and the husband kept her body in the house. They finally had to dismember her and put her in different places to keep the husband from having her corpse at home. As far as the cat cages, I was told by my supervisor that a local Chinese buffet was shut down - I saw the video on Facebook myself with the wormy crabs. I did spend the weekend viewing You Tube videos of cats in cages in China. They torch the fur off of them, string them up, and later cook them. They also have a dog festival where animal rights activists have tried to free the dogs. I had a depressing weekend in the name of research before I wrote my story.


message 17: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 5 comments Glenda and others,
Believable? The question mark was there for slight possibilities. I would think in most cases the County Health Department would shut such establishments down. However, Rebecca did put "Horror Week" at the top of this, so that opens the figurative conundrum. Still, good conflict and imagination on your part, Glenda. I might opt for some Nino Rota music this afternoon, 20th century Italian composer noted for various movie scores and such. He probably used a high-quality accordion in his scores.
Happier Research,
David Russell


message 18: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments Glenda. Question. Your direction state that the contest runs through September, but then deadline is Oct 27. Assume the Sept date is incorrect? So we submit the story here in this box? I haven't been here on this site before, so help me get the program right. Elaine Faber


message 19: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments INVISIBLE -- Elaine Faber
I’ve been sitting on this bench since early this morning. No one is coming to meet me. I have nowhere to go and nothing to do except sit here alone. Even this cup of cold coffee leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
Shoppers rush past. Ladies with shopping bags, young mothers pushing strollers, teenagers dressed in ominous black clothing peering into the stores looking for friends, but none look my way. I might as well be invisible as far as they’re concerned. Maybe I am invisible. I’m not sure how long I’ve been here, but a shadow just passed overhead, so it must be mid-afternoon.
How could this happen. Once I had a life. I had people to meet and things to do and more often than not, a plan for the day. But, that was long ago. In another life, I breathed and ate and slept and played and did all sort of things I don’t do now. Sometimes I wonder if I’m actually dead.
I thought when I was dead, I’d go to Heaven. Streets of gold, traveling through the universe on angel’s wings, glorying in God’s presence. Music, art, nature, love, all rolled into a package tied with a ribbon and left on your doorstep when you die. Just pull off the ribbon, open the package and there you are…Heaven.
Nope, not like that at all. Being dead is the absence of life, meaningless, empty, and lonely.
No one ever said dead would be just sitting alone in a shopping mall, the peculiar smell of burnt caramel corn in the air, walking past old friends and family who can no longer see you.
There have been times I sat beside my daughter and I’d speak to her and she’d look right through me. That’s how I know I’m invisible…or more likely… dead.
A security guard is coming down the sidewalk. I wonder if he’d answer if I greeted him? I spoke to a teenager a few minutes ago, but he kept on walking. Didn’t even turn his head. But then, why should he? He has a life. Probably has a girlfriend, maybe a job at McDonald’s, and for sure, an Apple I- phone. I saw it stuck to his ear. Literally, stuck in his ear, sort of like a hearing aid. He was talking to someone. Or maybe not. Maybe he was talking to himself. I could understand if he was talking to himself. I do that a lot lately, because when I speak to someone, no one hears a word I say. But why should they speak to someone who’s dead.
I should go. This bench is so hard and cold, my bones ache. I should go home. It’s nearly 4:00 P.M. The bus will be crowded and I need to find a seat in the back. No one will sit beside me or talk to me…
I walked too far this morning after I got off the bus, and my feet hurt. Walked all the way from the bus stop into the mall, past the shoe store. I bought a pair of shoes there once. Good shoes, too. On sale. That was some years ago when I still went to church and volunteered at the Discovery Shop and before my wife…died.
I don’t know what happened to those shoes. Maybe in the back of the closest with my golf clubs and fishing poles.
My wife and I used to do that…golf and fish. Did some traveling, too. But that was before …before my world became without hope, without meaning. Back before I sold my motor home and stopped going to church. Before my friends stopped calling, before I stopped volunteering. I guess that’s about when I chose to stop living….
“What? What did you say?” The sound of a human voice is inexplicable. It’s been so long…
This elderly man with gray hair stopped beside my bench. Is he talking to me?
“I said, do you play chess? There’s a chessboard over there next to those benches. Would you like to come over and play a game?”
“Are you sure you want…me? I…I…haven’t played for years.”
“If you’d rather not, I could ask someone else.”
“No. No.… Thanks. I mean, yeah, I’d love to play.” He sees me. He’s actually talking to me.
“Name’s Walter. What’s yours?”
He’s reaching to shake my hand. My fingers tingle at his touch. We walk to the chess table and Walter dumps the pieces on the table. My feet don’t hurt at all, now that we’re seated. “I’m Derwin. Nice to meet you. You come here often?”
There’s a crushing feeling in my chest, almost painful, and wonderful, all at the same time. I guess I was wrong. Maybe I’m not invisible. Maybe I’m not dead, after all. Maybe it was my choice to stop living because I thought there wasn’t anything to live for. Maybe I just gave up.
Walter lines ups the black and white pieces on the chess board. “I used to come every afternoon and meet my friend, but he’s moved to a nursing home across town. What do you say we grab a bite to eat over at Denny’s after a couple games? Black or white?”
“That sounds nice. I’d like that.” I chose black.
I can feel the muscles in my jaw strain. It’s a smile, I think. I haven’t smiled for a long time.


message 20: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 950 comments Mod
Nice ending, Elaine. I could see how a person could stop feeling alive after such a loss of a loved one and / or you lost your reason to live.


message 21: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 950 comments Mod
I also messaged Rebecca to edit the dates of the October contest in this thread.


message 22: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 5 comments Hi Elaine and others,
I like your narration, flow, and use of the ... to capture a bit of a lingering thought. My only minor nit is in the number of these used. Thanks!

David Russell


message 23: by Steve (new)

Steve Bridger (dooch) | 131 comments The Other Side of Midnight
Word Count: 617


Every night Amy would read another chapter from Harry Potter full of amazing adventures. Wizards, trolls and magical beasts came alive in the bedroom as she tucked Luke in at night. Her soft voice getting slower and more rhythmic as the eyelids of our treasured seven year old boy got heavier and heavier. Moments before Luke surrendered to the soothing caress of deep soulful sleep, I would step into the room and we’d change places. Amy would put her index finger to her lips to signal a silent ‘shoosh’. She’d checked the comforting glow of Luke’s Frosty the Snowman nightlight and gently tiptoed away. Her Diorissimo perfume left a memory trail that kissed the jealous air she passed.

‘Daddy!’ Luke’s smile was the sun was coming out. He spied me from under his Captain America duvet and the irresistible pleading would begin. ‘Pleeeese tell me a story, I’m begging you, just a quick one, I won’t tell mommy, I love your stories.’

Unconditional love agreed unconditionally. ‘Okay but it must be a short one tonight, then straight to sleep.’ Luke accepted the deal with a grin. ‘This story is called the other side of midnight.’

Four magical words ‘Once upon a time’ transported him to a place of deep love and security.

‘Once upon a time, there was a little boy called Luke. He lived with his mommy and daddy in a thatched cottage in the woods. Luke was a champion tree climber and made a giant nest in the uppermost branches of a swaying giant Redwood. He was so high he could see chubby white mice scoffing cheese on the moon. He was so high he could see penguins playing soccer in the Antarctic and cheating seals with a slippery ball. He was so high that the west wind told him something strange was going on. The west wind was never wrong.

Luke saw the invisible. He could see what wasn’t there. He was the world’s youngest sensory detective. He saw smells in solid form. He read the auras of bees and spoke the language of birdsong. His mind connected with dolphins who radioed alerts if pirates were close. He heard sounds in colour. He sniffed the air and was worried.

Village boys and girls were dressed as monsters and ghosts for Halloween and going door to door trick or treating. So far so ordinary, except for every boy or girl there was a mischievous sound following every step. A door suddenly started creaking when there was no door. A dog barked when there was no dog. Shadows joined hands to circle frightened children and cloak them in darkness, blotting out stars and blinding them to moonlight waves of hope. Their frantic cries choked, muffled and extinguished. The children were whisked away to the other side of midnight never to be seen again. End.

‘Who could help? Where’s a hero when you need one? Are you happy with that ending?’

Luke shook his head. He wanted a happy ending.

The one thing that all children have is the pure white light of love. It radiates. It shines from the top of their heads. It illuminates the world. The forces of darkness, the shadows have black souls. Black burns away in light. The children forgot their most powerful weapon. Luke flew on the wings of eagles and threw a spear of lightning into the blackness. The shadow exploded. The children were safe their light saved them. It was time for bed.

I kissed his forehead. He’d been asleep for hours. I hovered over him. My spirit heart was breaking.


message 24: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 950 comments Mod
Steve, very creative. I could've had more of that!


message 25: by Steve (new)

Steve Bridger (dooch) | 131 comments Thanks Glenda. Where you thinking that I should do something with the missiing 400 words?


message 26: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 950 comments Mod
The max word count is 1,000. You could've easily put more words in and still kept things interesting. But it's good just like it is **wink**


message 27: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Fearful Bumps and Noises at Night.
Christene Britton-Jones (1000 words)

‘Alas alack and all alone
Whistling west winds winding wild wiry webs
Midst morbid morose miserable moaning…’

It was a very cold day in Tasmania, dirty grey clouds had shadowed the sun heralding light snowfall, but I didn’t chose the day that we moved into that house at the corner of Timsbury Avenue and Howard Road, Glenorchy: it wasn’t really a house, but two adjoined servants quarters now opened up to make one that resembling a two storied English cottage: this one was ancient, all that remained of the Timsbury Estate that had been demolished to make way for the highway.

So I waited inside for the moving van to arrive, along with the trades people to connect power; fortunately the stove was gas so I switched on the jets, grill and oven, hovering to get some warmth, turning my body often in front of the open oven door as one side chilled and the other side fried, there I was all alone as hours passed… but was I?

It certainly felt as if there was something moving it was sensed but not seen by me.

Abruptly lavender floral fragrance seemingly stirred the air; it brushed past me and disappeared. Confused I walked into the dining room, suddenly the fragrance was stronger, then after a quick check throughout the empty house I returned but it had gone completely.

Strange I thought then dismissed it as the removalists arrived needing my help as to where the furniture was to be placed.

***
It didn’t take long to unpack our small emergency pack and set up the kitchen and bedroom. Later at my leisure during the rest of the week all boxes would be unpacked.

Some cook books I had set upon shelves, a few favored ones standing open on display…five to be exact.

That night I tossed and turned restlessly trying to get some sleep, I was tired but couldn’t sleep deeply at all, small noises intruded into fitful moments of short sleep, awaking me as I peered nervously around at this strange bedroom…meanwhile my husband beside me snored on deep in slumber.

Next morning in the kitchen that middle book I had left standing the previous day was now closed face down on the shelf while the others still stood all around it… this would be a reoccurring sequence each morning from there onwards.

The recipe book was on the old colonial art of making homemade wine that one alone would always be face down no matter where I moved it on the shelf…

The nights were perplexing, there was every new noise to get used to, thick walls may have isolated the outside noise of the highway but had ramped up the internal creaking’s and groans of old latched windows, doors or stairs that were moving slightly.

Outside a huge aged Mulberry tree towered over the house scratching upon the metal roof or tapping insistently on window glass or frames with the slightest whisper of a breeze.

I no longer enjoyed sipping my glass of red wine in the evenings; it now tasted sour in my mouth after that second night when that newly opened ‘breathing’ bottle had smashed to the floor while I was out of the room.

***
I had sat bolt upright, sweating profusely shaking in nervous apprehension at yet another noise…all my childhood nightmares rose again of the ‘Boogey Man’ under my bed and when I was too scared to peep under there in case I came face to face with that horror. I gripped the unused torch in my hands till they went beyond aching to numbness…I daren’t switch it on, my fear was growing in leaps and bounds.

Morning light brought some relief… drifting into an exhausted sleep… tired beyond measure.

During daytime shadows gathered in corners, those small movements caught out of the corner of my eye that quickly disappeared when I directly faced them, my nerves were becoming raw as I lightly napped in a wingback chair, there was ruined broken sleep then as the days stretched into night.

Waking abruptly from a daylight nap for early evening shadows started gathering, it was four o’clock as I sat looking at the large lifelike painting of a New Guinea Highlander on the wall opposite.

His eyes were becoming bloodshot, face stubble deepening into a distinctive five o’clock shadow, he looked fiercely hostile.

This was no longer the gentle portrait of one that had been lovingly named Charles.

I swiftly rose, throwing down my knee rug, leaving the room for a pot of tea in the kitchen nook.

Then came the worst night ever, there was no sleep at all counting off the hours, minutes and seconds till light appeared to chase away those shadows. Stumbling downstairs I had put on the kettle for tea that once brewed would be taken into the lounge room, to be sipped sitting on the window seat while enjoying the first of the sun.

There I stared at my sweet Charles’s picture in disbelief for it had turned askew half way up on the wall in a very rakish angle. This feature now greeted me each morning; after I would deliberately straighten it each night.

I was becoming more and more disturbed and disconcerted each day from all of the strange events and sleepless nights…my nerves were shot and my hands trembling so that I needed both hands to hold my cup of tea once it was lifted from the clattering saucer.

***
It was then decided to research the history of the place at the archives of the Hobart Library.

It seems that one of the former Timsbury House servants named Charlotte had died in the house in childbirth after abandonment by her philandering merchant husband who preferred her younger sister whom she had invited out to Australia to live with them.

Apparently the discarded wife was a strict teetotaler and really feared the local Aboriginal tribe.


message 28: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Looking forward to reading these posted stories and even more on the 28th when I cast my vote...I know Annette is busy writing up hers now.


message 29: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments Just catching up. Glenda, that really is a nightmare...especially for a restaurateur! Elaine, your story about made me cry. Nice job, Steve and Christene. I like all the stories, and am looking forward to rereading them again.


message 30: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments I've updated the dates since none of us are time travelers.

Entries must be submitted by midnight on 10/27/2017. Voting will begin at 12:01 am 10/28/2017 and will close at midnight on 10/30/2017. All times are Central Standard Time. Winners will be announced 10/31/2017 by 9pm.


message 31: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 5 comments Hi Writers,
Christine, I like your beginning choice of words, imagery throughout, and you might be missing the onset of summer in your native Australia.. We are possibly going to have a light frost here overnight; this will be our first for 2017. Good story.
- Rebecca, thanks for the reminder of the end date, voting and all that good stuff!

David Russell


message 32: by Steve (new)

Steve Bridger (dooch) | 131 comments Christene - I'm intrigued, as a fellow writer why do you use the three dots ... in sentences and to divide paragraphs.

Is it a technique to add pauses within the narrative?


message 33: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Steve that's about it...an old habit ...usually its when the thoughts are coming so fast that I am frantically trying to get them down (I touch type but wish it was faster).

I am always looking for hints and input to help my writings.

The three stars between paragraphs are to section the opening, body and close of story.


message 34: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 5 comments Hi Writers,
Two things:
Replying to Christene and Steve on the use of * (stars), I always understood them to be a break, or to separate one major point in time from another. Whether they are synonymous with a chapter break in a lengthier work is unknown to me. Perhaps someone else can shed light.
- I removed my story, Ice Capades, as it has undergone major revision outside here, and the version you read was a corrected initial draft. So, it's gone!
David Russell


message 35: by Steve (new)

Steve Bridger (dooch) | 131 comments Thanks Christene and David,

The Tale of the Three Dots.
My understanding is that they are used sparingly to signify something along the lines of ' to be continued'. It is to leave the reader with the idea that something is being literally left in the air. And that they the reader have to close the circle on the what they would expect to happen next...


message 36: by Steve (new)

Steve Bridger (dooch) | 131 comments Pity you've removed the story David - perhaps a winner next month?


message 37: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 5 comments No pity, glad I did. Better to let something simmer than serve instantly.
David Russell


message 38: by Lynette (new)

Lynette White (lynettewhite) | 309 comments I am so sorry I have been absent from this month's thread. This new job is consuming more of my energy then I anticipated and before I knew it the entire month was gone. I had a great story idea too, but I don't think I can get it pulled together by Friday.


message 39: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 950 comments Mod
Lynette, I started a new job too in the medical field of sleep studies for physical and sleep disorders ( scheduling ). We are not allowed to use the computers for personal use. My lunch hour is spent in my truck eating and checking email and Web stuff on my phone. I did receive my inspiration at work and even scrawled the beginnings of my story there. It would be nice to have a few more story entries before the deadline.


message 40: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments I agree Glenda, it would be nice to have a few more. So, come on everyone! Look at it as practice for NaNo.

Stories due tomorrow, Friday, at midnight.

Happy writing.


message 41: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (furyanhound) | 89 comments Okay, everyone - this isn't quite a Hallowe'en tale, but I'd been reviewing it for something else I was working on, and I've tweaked it to fit all the necessary requirements for this month's contest. So, here, for your reading pleasure, I present "Pandora's Box". Quick note: Since there is no way to italicize some of the words (that are meant to be internal thoughts), I've enclosed the italicized text with -hyphens-.

Pandora's Box
By: Stephanie Baskerville
990 Words

-Epimetheus should never have given this task to me.- Antonios shivered, hiding in his cellar dwelling. He was terrified. -He should never have placed his trust in someone like me.-

Antonios had never imagined that he’d find himself in such a predicament. When he’d become the slave of Epimetheus and Pandora, he’d been so happy to have such kind masters. Other orphans like himself had been sent to cruel people. But he had escaped that fate.

And Pandora… well, she was beautiful. Almost as beautiful as Aphrodite herself. She had such musical talent, granted to her by Apollo at her making. -Oh, but her curiosity!- Antonios moaned inaudibly. -Such insatiable curiosity!-

It was her downfall. And now, that curiosity of Pandora’s had made Antonios fail in his one task… to guard the world’s treasure from harm.

Pandora, giver of gifts, was the earth’s treasure, so Epimetheus had informed him when he came into their service as a boy. She was the bestower of all things necessary for life, therefore Antonius was to protect Pandora with every fiber of his being, even laying down his own life if it was called for. It was a daunting task for a young dwarf of his age.

-I failed.- Antonios put his head into his hands. His diminutive frame shook with the sobs that he refused to vocalize. Upstairs, Pandora was weeping enough for the both of them. No amount of consoling from Antonios’s part had been able to get her to stop. If he was convinced that he was doomed, she was even more convinced that her life would be forfeit when Zeus found out what she’d done.

So he’d left her in her room, retreating into the cool cellar and the small cave that his kind preferred. The peculiar smell of damp, moldy earth had, for a moment, soothed his jangled nerves. But then the fear had returned.

Despair… one of the many evils that Pandora had unleashed on the world. As the feeling had hit him for the first time, he thought he’d died. He remembered the goblet of wine that Pandora had asked him to fetch for her slipping from his grasp as he dropped to the ground, curling into a ball and shaking uncontrollably with fear. The taste of copper filled his mouth, and he realized he’d bitten his tongue.

When Pandora had shrieked in mortal panic, the sound was so inexplicably heart-wrenching that the paralysis had left his body. Antonios had scurried into the room where he’d left Pandora, and found her trying to tamp the lid down on the pithios that had stood in the middle of the room. All around her, black shadows poured from its gaping maw. The shadows had looked to Antonios like they were attacking his mistress. He tried valiantly to fend them off of her.

“Help me with the lid!” she had screamed. Antonios had thrown himself at the pithios, but his dwarfish stature so typical of his species prevented him from helping much. Finally, though, Pandora succeeded in replacing the lid. She had sunk to the floor, sobbing with the effort of her struggle.

Antonios had rushed to get her another goblet of wine in an effort to stave off the hysterics. She’d drunk only a little before a bout of terrible weeping had struck her. Then, not sure what else to do, he’d retreated to the cellar.

-Epimetheus should be home any minute,- Antonios thought, getting to his feet. -I should be with Pandora when he returns.-

Antonios trudged up the stairs with a heavy heart, his short legs having to stretch quite far to reach the next step. Arriving at the top stair, Antonios listened for the sound of Pandora’s weeping. Coming from the room where he’d left her, Antonios heard voices.

He entered the room quietly and found Epimetheus on the floor, comforting Pandora in his arms. They looked up when Antonios approached them. He bowed low as Epimetheus stood up, helping Pandora to her feet.

“Master, I have failed you,” Antonios said, scraping the floor with his forehead. “I have failed to guard the treasure of the earth.”

“Rise, Antonios,” Epimetheus’s voice was surprisingly gentle. Antonios looked up in disbelief. He should have been killed outright! Yet Epimetheus was asking him to rise? Hastily, Antonios did as his master bid.

“Master?” he inquired.

“Pandora should never have been left alone, that’s true. But you were only following her request to get her something with which to quench her thirst. You have always been such a faithful servant to Pandora and me. How were you to know that she would open the pithios from Zeus?” Epimetheus’s face looked worn, but there was no trace of anger on his broad features. Epimetheus sighed. “Pandora has unleased disease, poverty, despair, and many other Evils, which will scatter across the earth and infect and torment mankind.”

His words made Antonios tremble. The thought of such Evil entering the world terrified him.

“Zeus will be furious, my husband,” Pandora said quietly. Epimetheus shook his head.

“No, he won’t. I should have listened to Prometheus’s warning, my heart, but you were too beautiful for me to pass up,” he said, taking her in his arms and kissing her softly. “Zeus gave you your curiosity, then gave you a gift that you were never to open. He meant for this to happen all along.”

“He meant such Evils to come into this world?” Antonios forgot his place for a moment and the question burst from his lips before he could stop it.

“Fire was originally for the Gods only, Antonios,” Epimetheus said. “Yet, my brother stole it and gave it to man.”

“So Zeus will take his anger out on all of mankind by unleashing such terrible things?” Antonios asked.

“Yes,” Epimetheus replied. “But at least one good thing came out of the box…”

“Good?” Pandora asked.

“Yes, my love. You let out hope, too.”


message 42: by F.F. (new)

F.F. Burwick | 155 comments The Strange House Encountered by F. F. Burwick, 1000 words

Erin and Doug had come far to see their one time friend Lawrence, who had spoken earlier of available work positions in his new thriving business, but when they had come to him, he had nothing but lowly positions that were not what they expected, for Lawrence's business was suddenly struggling with diminishing resources they depended on from the area from change in the climate. They made due with this, but with growing stress the friendship soured. Eventually, months later, Erin and Doug quit that, which was never what they liked, to travel back to their home town. They had come a long way, curving around the wilderness areas that were only a little populated, they noted now a road that cut more directly across, which could shorten their trip, so they chose that, with a sign designating that way went toward their town.

At first, spread apart among empty land with wild vegetation in-between were seen several homes. But they continued on a long way after that without other homes seen. And they never saw any traffic from others this way, even as that day drew to a close. This, as an ominous lonely quest to return not expected, troubled them. As they continued still, having come far already, the road gave evidence of long neglect, for there were holes in the road that they saw at intervals. They were both alert then to watch for those. This was effective much of the way, for they did not speed up though it would be relief to already pass this lonely wild country. Yet at length they came to an accursed hole that defied their watchful eyes, it was invisible until they came right on top of it, and with its very sharp edge, like savage teeth, it tore into that wheel it caught, ripping it to a functionless mess.

Erin and Doug stopped, and looked at the wheel, seeing then they could not do anything for it right then. But both saw a house not far off, among tall growing plants. Windows were dark there, except for a lighted window they saw from the side view, in the back from the road. It was evening, they saw little option but to go and seek any help they might get there.

Doug led Erin going up the few steps to the porch before the front door. He then knocked, and after waiting a bit he knocked again, loudly. Still they waited long, and with no response seen, with having no option but to continue looking for any help, they left the front area, going to the side of the house, to knock on a window there. But here there were a lot of growing plants, making it difficult to reach any windows on the side. Yet Doug persisted until he did. After knocking he called out, "Our wagon is stuck out in front on the road, with a torn wheel, we can't go anywhere now. Can we get help?"

When there was still no response, they both looked to the window with light shining from it further back. "Perhaps whoever lives here is really hard of hearing," Erin suggested.

They looked for a way back to that window, but the thick growth of plants did not leave that possible, and they sensibly chose not to try that in the poor lighting. From the distance they looked to see if they could discern anything through the lit window, but nothing showed but light blurred as if through haze somewhere further back from the window itself. So they wandered to the front again. Doug knocked some more, and then tried the knob. The door swung open then.

They looked at each other. Doug called "Hello" again, but with nothing but silence to still hear then, he gestured to Erin, and stepped into the room. It was at least comfortably warm inside. Their eyes slowly adjusted to the little light in this front room from the open door and one window there. It was large, like a parlor, but it was apparently empty, except for a dusty couch facing the front with a side table next to it, further back, and an unused fireplace, and an empty mantelpiece. They made out where there was a door standing ajar on the other side from the front, they crossed over to it, and Doug called out "Hello" again.

With the silence continuing, it was hard to believe there was any occupant in this house, but the light within indicated otherwise. After a while, Doug and Erin continued in through the door. Here they entered a hallway, there were doors which were shut on either side, spaced well apart, four on one side and four on the other. There was another door, slightly ajar, at the other end of the hallway, from it a small amount of light was showing.

They went forward to it, not speaking anything, with no idea what to expect, and Doug, coming to that door, slowly opened it more. Beyond it, they then saw the room there was a dining room, with six chairs around a long table, with some light coming in through the next door from more light beyond it. The table was clear of anything, but now they first detected a smell, which they quietly indicated to each other they both noticed, it was not so unpleasant but it did not remind them of anything desirable either.

They came to the door which was mostly open on the other end of the dining room, here was where the light was shining from. As Doug opened it further for them to enter, a shadow moved quickly across the room there, and they almost jumped out of their skin. Erin tasted blood from her bitten tongue. They heard a scratching noise here.

Within that empty kitchen area, there were beetles crawling, and there was a large insect at rest on the wall, it was a lanternfly, causing the glow here.


message 43: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments Nice job Stephanie. I'm glad you were able to include it this month.

FF, I enjoyed your story.

Okay, just a few more hours to get your stories in. Voting begins at Midnight. You can either send me a message here on good reads or on my email: rebecca.a.lacy@gmail. If you posted a story, please vote for your choice of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. I guess it goes without saying that you cannot vote for your own.


message 44: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Great stories again this month my fellow writers...

Ice Capades - David Russell (removed)
David your story shaped up nicely, holding my interest while I was trying to figure out if it was going to be a love story, murder or spy defection. There were lots of interesting angles that you had going, so much so that I am looking forward to seeing your amended version in the near future. The Piano Concerto No. 1 by Tchaikovsky was the perfect popular piece, and I could hear it playing while reading your story, it lends itself so nicely to an ice skating performance.

Lunar Lantern Restaurant – Glenda Reynolds
My! what a colorful nightmare that was Glenda, smells of formaldehyde, taste of creamy cheesy sauce, sightings of worms and eyeballs, a touch of cold skin, then fear and darkness you brought it all into the story, then finishing it so well with that dry humor of an alka seltzer request for breakfast. Your running dialogue kept the story rolling smoothly and well focused. Next time a red sauce is served with some pasta it will get my very intense scrutiny.

Invisible - Elaine Faber
So many questions passed through my mind while reading this story, the rationalization and rambling were perfectly juxtaposed in the ongoing self conversation and thoughts. Sometimes this is a challenging story frame to stick with but you wrote this well, it was an admirable story, and kept my mind asking questions like is he really dead, dead: or just not living life fully and sinking into a world halfway between dreaming and or dying.

The Other Side of Midnight – Steve
“Her Diorissimo perfume left a memory trail that kissed the jealous air she passed.” What a delightfully poetic line you wove into the story at the beginning.
From then onwards you took me down the proverbial rabbit hole chasing a child’s fantasy where everything is true and possible as long as it had a happy, or happy ever afterward ending. How we long for the return of the innocence of childhood when we grow into adulthood and it is stories such as yours that take us there. Bravo Steve.

Pandora's Box - Stephanie Baskerville
Those Greek Gods certainly played games with humans and demi-Gods didn’t they Stephanie? You well and truly showed this in your unfolding story of Pandora’s temptation to open that box she was given by Zeus, you also brought out a lot of emotion, compassion and grief through the main characters of Antonios and Epimetheus. Most of all I loved the ending where we they were also left with hope, and I do love an ending that lifts the spirits.

The Strange House Encountered - F. F. Burwick
With doors leading towards other doors, and that faint lighting of ever more distant rooms, that was indeed a lengthy trail leading to where I wondered? A hoped for help for stranded Erin and Doug that lead to scratchings of that huge Lanternfly: made me think of a dream sequence. Fred you presented a great description here in “Yet at length they came to an accursed hole that defied their watchful eyes, it was invisible until they came right on top of it, and with its very sharp edge, like savage teeth, it tore into that wheel it caught, ripping it to a functionless mess.”


message 45: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments thanks Christine, for such a wonderful synopsis of the tales. Makes it so much easier to judge. appreciate you kind remarks to each writer. Very encouraging.


message 46: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 950 comments Mod
Christine, thank you for the blurbs for each story. I was thinking that I'd like to enjoy eating a bag of sweet popcorn with a mocha coffee latte while watching your story made into a movie :)


message 47: by Shae (new)

Shae Hamrick | 284 comments Well, great stories this month. I too was looking to write one but could never quite settle on anything. But the tales here this month have been masterfully written. David, I am sad that I didn't get a chance to read yours. I hear it was great though.

Well, November is coming. I had better get my post up shortly. Happy Halloween everyone.


message 48: by Steve (new)

Steve Bridger (dooch) | 131 comments Just voted but for those who have copied and pasted Rebecca's email address you need to add the dot com:

rebecca.a.lacy@gmail.com

Steve B.


message 49: by Steve (new)

Steve Bridger (dooch) | 131 comments Christene - I wanted to join the others in thanking you for your thoughtful mini-reviews. So appreciated and an x from me.


message 50: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rlacy) | 152 comments I'm waiting for one more vote. If you submitted a story and have not yet voted, there's still time.


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