Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Halloween Flash #5

In thinking more about the primary topic of my last post, an idea for a flash piece occurred to me. And so, I give you “Isolation.”

Stay tuned after the story for another new Halloween Horror link. I'm expecting some more tomorrow and will add them to this post then.

In last minute news, before this post, I just got an email accepting a short story of mine called "Dragon Lost." I'll write more about that at a future time.


ISOLATION

The snow falls straight down. Like cold feathers at first. Then in heavy clumps like frozen rags. You stumble to your knees. But you’re up again swiftly. To stop moving is deadly. Not that you’ll freeze. That death would be almost welcome compared to the horror you fear. You can’t even name the horror. Not clearly. But it follows you. It follows.

You stagger forward, through the first swirling winds of what threatens to become a blizzard. Wind will cover your tracks, you think. It would be such a gift. But you doubt it’ll happen fast enough to save you.

The snow thickens. You start to sweat. You remember reading how dangerous that is in the cold. The sweat will freeze on you, chill you to death. But you dare not slow. The followers are coming. You hear them, you think. Though you hope it’s only the wind’s shrill shriek.

Then the world knocks you down. You don’t see well anyway without your glasses and in the snow you run head on into a cliff. Suddenly you’re flat on your back with wet white piling on you. Your face throbs. You taste salt at your lips, know that it must be blood.

Somehow you climb to your feet. Your hands find the cliff’s face. You realize it isn’t a cliff at all. It’s a wall. It towers too high to climb over so you begin to feel your way along it, knowing there’s no time to retrace your steps.

A sound stops you, freezes your blood more than the cold surroundings. You turn. Your followers are there, mere silhouettes through the blitz of snow. You back away—until your shoulders press against the wall and there is nowhere left to go.

The followers close in, bulking around you, cutting you off from any escape. You want to cry out for mercy. You would beg in an instant if you thought it would save you. But their soul-less eyes tell you it won’t.

One follower offers something to you in a bulky paw. Though terrified, you scoot slowly forward. The paw resolves itself. It’s wearing a mitten. Your glasses dangle from the digits. You reach for them, knowing what will happen. The glasses are released just as you touch them, drop and disappear in the snow. You feel the sting of tears and fight them back.

From somewhere a bell rings. It’s too late. Nothing can end the game just yet.

The other children laugh as they push you hard against the wall, and you hear the crunch as someone stomps your glasses. You do begin to cry now, even though you know it’ll make things worse. They love the tears, and they don’t care that recess is over. They only care that you’re different, and alone with them. Alone. Isolated.

--- the end ---
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Halloween Horror Links:

Three more from Laughingwolf:

1. Polterguest by Laughingwolf.

2. Dawn Coyote

freaky flash IX, night, a recent one. I'll add this one to links in my next post as well.

One from SQT

Election Day by SQT. OK, now this one is almost too horrific to contemplate.

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54 comments:

X. Dell said...

Geez. What kind of Catholic school was this?

the walking man said...

It was the kind I spent my youth in X.

virtual voyage said...

Very, very effective.

ChrisEldin said...

I love the twists your writings have.
That was very good. I've spent recess at that school, and yes, it is Horror Flash.
Enjoyed this one!!!

BernardL said...

Good one, Charles, and congratulations on the story pick up.

laughingwolf said...

grats on the acceptance note, charles!

you seem to have gotten freakier... with old age! :O lol

thx for the plug, btw....

jason evans said...

Congratulations on the acceptance!!

The turn toward cold here makes your story all the more immediate.

Charles Gramlich said...

X-dell, a pretty standard one, I'd say. ;)

Mark, my Catholic school was a bit more friendly.

virtual voyage, thankee.

chriseldin, thanks. Much appreciated.

Bernardl, thanks. Yeah, it was nice to sell that one.

Laughingwolf, thanks. I'm just more willing to show my freakiness these days.

Jason, thanks. I felt good about that story but it had been rejected a few times under slightly different form.

laughingwolf said...

uh... this is #5, no? ;)

and yeah, i'm coming out from behind my shields more often, too :O lol

Heff said...

"wet white piling on you".

"You taste salt at your lips,"

For a minute there, I though this story was going in another direction....

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughingwolf, hum, I think you're right. I need to change the title. It is five.

Heff, well who knows what happens when they get the poor kid up against the wall.

Miladysa said...

Congratulations on Dragons Lost Charles - Well done :D

"Like cold feathers at first." - very nice!

Barrie said...

I am enjoying these snippets of horror as Halloween approaches. Congrats on the short story acceptance.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I applaud you for your use of second person narration, something I would never attempt. You pulled it off with ease.

Many congrats on the short story. Looking forward to hearing more about it :)

Virginia Lady said...

Nice story, and congrats on your acceptance!

Lana Gramlich said...

Congrats on the story, baby!
Too many horrific elements in flash #5. For one, you mentioned sn*w. *shudders with horror & disgust*

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

I got this one way too well. You did a great job describing my youth. I'm with Mark -- this is the kind of school I spent my tender years enduring. Whenever anyone talks about the innocence of children, I want to throw up. They are as wicked as the rest of us! Congrats on the story!

FANCY said...

That freak me out...I will now sleep with my lamp on. :)

Greg Schwartz said...

scary stuff! makes me glad i'm not in grade school anymore.

Barbara Martin said...

Charles, I can identify with that story. There is always an underdog who is bullied at school. The weakness is found and preyed upon. If the bullies are squealed on, then there is that ever present dread of walking home after school and looking over your shoulder. Unless, of course, your big brother is taller and larger than the other kids' brothers. Mine was.

Ello said...

Oh wow Charles that was brilliant! I thought it was a freaky horror story until the end and then I realized it was a true story that is even more horrifying! Excellent job!

Shauna Roberts said...

Great story, and congratulations on yet another acceptance. You must really be churning out stories.

Charles Gramlich said...

Miladysa, thanks. I liked that cold feathers line as well.

Barrie, thanks, glad you are enjoying.

L. A., I think it really can only work in very short pieces.

Virginia lady, thankee.

Lana, now watch it S**w down here this winter.

Michelle, they certainly are. I didn't have it too rough in school but no one escapes unscarred.

Fancy, then my goal has been accomplished. ;)

Greg, you and me both. Far better to be grown up. Except for the pesky work.

Barbara Martin, I had an older kid who protected me in a couple of cases. He was much appreciated.

Ello, thanks. I appreciate the kind words. Yes, such things can be truly horrific.

Shauna, thanks. This was actualy an older one that I rewrote. It was also a pretty short one, which don't take that much time.

Rick said...

I'm glad I waited to read this, because I enjoyed it all the more. It would be interesting from the perspective of everyone else. I recently sat down for lunch recently with the biggest hood (gangbanger or whatever now) from my high school. I remember him sticking kids up for money with a switchblade in between classes. Thing is, he was telling me about his high school days as though I hadn't been there. He remembered lots of friends, helping people, the subjects he liked, how he wished his parents had been more involved, and wondered if underfunding had been an issue for the poor teachers back then. You see, he's the mayor now.

JR's Thumbprints said...

My kind of school, only the boys are a little bit bigger, trapped in men's bodies.

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Scott said...

Charles,

Another good one!

Stewart Sternberg said...

From Childhood's Hour...eh, Charles? If you'll permit me a bit of Poeishness....ah, boys will be boys.
I love using winter and snow to set mood in fiction. I think there is nothing more horrifying than a horror story set in the bleak part of winter..ice, snow, wind...brrrrrr

Charles Gramlich said...

Rick, wow, now the mayor eh? Still holding people up, in a way. It's almost always really fascinating to see how people change across time, and how they don't.

JR., much scarier. I never really thought about it that way but I can see it.

Lusia, if you're genuinely interested and visit to discuss the posts rather than scampering through, I'll be happy to reciprocate.

Scott, thankee.

Stewart Sternberg, I agree. There's something "chilling" if you will about winter. Really does physically alter my mood.

writtenwyrdd said...

Some of the scariest stuff is in everyday moments like being the victim of schoolyard bullies. I loved this one.

Will Kinshella said...

Fantastic story.
No monster will ever be more terrifying than the mind that created it. Humans will always be the most fear-inspiring creatures on earth.

Especially children... Anyone who doesn't fear the pesky, mewling, spawn of man has never been to school. Or worked in customer service.

Charles Gramlich said...

Writtenwyrdd, this kind of stuff is just plain chilling, whereas monster stories can be horrific but tend lack some of the intimacy and creepiness.

Will Kinshella, thanks for dropping by. And how true about the spawn of man, or man him/herself

Vesper said...

Charles, I found this an excellent flash, very chilling and not because of the snow... The twist at the end was surprising and... perfect. More than supernatural foes, human children can be soul-less and horrific.

Congratulations on the acceptance of your story.

Sarai said...

Nice twist at the end! As always a pleasure reading your work

Rick said...

Hey, Charles, looks like we'll be in "Tales Out of Miskatonic University" together. Very cool stuff. But we have to not tell anyone because there's some kind of a guess who's in the anthology contest coming out tomorrow.

Shhhh.

ivan said...

:)

We had to stomp him, because he was so unusual.

Rob Hopcott said...

Nice one Charles :-)

Leigh Russell said...

School can be a terrifying place for some children. You capture that very well. Pure imagination, I hope.

Congratulations on having a short story accepted. Almost impossible achievement. Please give yourself a huge pat on the back from across the pond.

Susan Miller said...

As always. Top notch.

I especially like the use of the short sentences, the use of punctuation, to add a sharp beat to it.

Congratulations on the publication.

Charles Gramlich said...

Vesper, thanks, I appreciate that.

Sarai, thankee for the kind words.

Rick, cool, I think Stewart's gonna be in there too, but Shhh, mums the word.

Ivan, the tallest blade of grass meets the mower first.

Rob Hopcott, thanks, I appreciate that.

Leigh Russel, thanks. No the story is not personal to me but I do know of folks who have suffered something similiar.

Susan, thanks, Good to see you around. I hope you are doing well.

Middle Ditch said...

Not at all the ending I expected. Poor kid!!

It still goes on though, this horrible bullying when you are a little different.

ivan said...

Heff,

I think you're a sick puppy. :)

David Cranmer said...

Great story. Didn't see the end coming... that's some REAL scary stuff! Very well done. Congrats on the acceptance.

Donnetta Lee said...

Working with kids and being a kid at heart, this one really came home to me! Truly liked this one. I'll try to come up with another Halloween post, too. Hopefully, I'll get it done! D

Charles Gramlich said...

Middle ditch, yes, I've seen it happen. IT makes me so sick.

Ivan, he likes to be thought of that way.

David Cranmer, thanks. Much appreciated.

Donnetta, we're closing in on the big day. I bought candy today.

Erik Donald France said...

Love this, sentence by sentence.

A blitz of snow, indeed.

Steve Malley said...

Good stuff!

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, thanks.

Steve, glad you enjoyed.

Travis said...

The setting had me going in a completely different direction. Well played.

Billy said...

The present tense works very well here. Excellent, Charles!

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis, thanks. Appreciate that.

Billy, I though I had to use the present tense and second person to keep the immediacy and to keep the reader guessing.

Sarah Hina said...

Great interpretation of true horror, Charles. There was a driving sensation to this one that had me backing away, too. Loved the twist.

And congrats on another story acceptance!

Avery DeBow said...

Good news on the acceptance, Charles!

As a sufferer of nearsightedness, the thought of being chased while not having my glasses truly hits me in the horror-spot. I'm totally Velma when I can't find mine.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sarah, glad you enjoyed it. And thanks.

Avery, I can at least see enough of a blur to run away from it without my glasses.