Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Flash #7: The Final Flash

All right. This will be my last Halloween Horror October story for the season. I hope to do this again next year, or something like it. I’d very much like to thank everyone who took part by posting flash fictions or other Halloween related materials on their blogs. We truly had some awesome stories posted and some great discussion of movies and other horror related topics. Kudos to everyone, even if you just came and read the pieces.

Now, I hope I didn’t miss any links. But I plan to do a post in a few days that pulls together ALL the Halloween Horror links that I’ve posted previously. So, if I’ve missed anything you’d like me to include, let me know and I’ll get it into that post. After tomorrow night, however, I’m not going to be adding any new links for a bit. I need a short break.

The piece below is a variation on something I posted originally in response to a prompt on another person’s blog, in this case Bernita, who is soundly missed, by the way. I don’t believe most of you have seen it so it should be completely new to you. It’s been revised anyway. It’s called:


Sunlight fogs the clearing where the dying trees watch; nothing stirs. But the quiet will soon break. Riders are coming from north and south, and before them fly the ravens. They come in flocks, light spilling dark from flashing wings. Their cries rasp the sky. A wind moves with them.

The ancient oaks shiver as the black birds settle raucously in their branches. The ravens’ agate eyes spark with red as they turn their heads in the sun. The grass stirs now, whispering with gossip as the wind arrives. And there is a rumble in the distance that might be thunder but which the ravens know as the beat of iron-shod hooves.

Up the last hills toward the clearing the riders come, their thunder shaking the earth now, shaking the trees and stirring the birds into a frenzy. Light ripples off armor, off the heads of lances and the bright pennons that snap with eagerness.

The sky roars with sound, then falls nearly silent as the armies draw to a halt facing each other. In the trees, the ravens preside. And the charge comes, as the birds expect. Battle is joined. Carnage riots in the clearing.

First blood soaks the earth, moistens the dry soil. More crimson follows. Buckets of it. It’s what the dying oaks have waited for. It’s why they’ve been sending hate over the years into weak human minds, urging them toward war, urging them toward this moment and this place.

Quietly, the oaks begin to bloom. And in the trees’ awakening hunger, the ravens are the first to be devoured.

The first. But not the last.

--- the end ---

New Halloween Horror Links:

More Halloween Horror October Flash Stories, or Poetry

Barbara Martin, with her first: Halloween Flash

Lucas Pederson: The Creeper.

Sarah Hina: Run.

Laughingwolf (Adult Language Warning): taboo

Jason Evans: The Forgotten Ones

Vesper: On a Halloween Night

Billy Hammett: It Is a Fearful Thing

Halloween inspired art:

Check out Steve Malley’s killer Halloween art here.

Jack Bertram: Frankenstein versus Hercules

From Scott’s blog: David Hartman



Lana Gramlich said...

Mwa ha ha! The trees fight back! I love it. :)

Lana Gramlich said...

On second thought, maybe that's where all of our birds have gone... <:O

eric1313 said...

Nature will always find a way to balance what we have done to it. Much allegory in this. The greatest allegory is always unplanned.

Unless of course, you planned it...

Writing skillz: you gots'em.

Blogging is addictive... I visti Susan and hop over here for a peak... Lana will be next... WHERE DOES IT END!?!?!?!

aye aye aye...

Anyway, I have been busy with a new job, managing a pizza place in town here in East Lansing. But more importantly, I found actual freelance writing work! I'll be writing short science fiction bits and blurbs for a video game company about space travel and all the horrors associated with it, including all manner of wars between empires down to petty merchants. Been interesting so far. And they have had tons of editing work for me. They are French Canadian, so finding me--and me finding them--has been excellent. The pay is not so hot, but can get better, and will if the game takes off. And at least i get credit, and who knows where the future will lead me...

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra

I'll be back around! So glad you 2 have been reading. I'm glad to hold anyone's interest, really.

It means a lot.

Peace out

Erik Donald France said...

Nifty fifty.

I'm sometimes reminded in your flash of "The Interlopers."

the walking man said...

The trees enlivened by ancient Druid mystics have turned to the never ending source of their food; human carnage.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Just the thing to start off this halloween.

Mary Witzl said...

Great, Charles. Catch me going anywhere near a forest for the next couple of weeks.

This caught me entirely by surprise. Never did I imagine that the trees were the bad guys, but I love that twist -- and all the imagery.

BernardL said...


laughingwolf said...

oooeee love it... though for a while thought the ravens would be feasting on the 'road kill' themselves ;) lol

XIII is up, btw... very adult!

Lucas Pederson said...

Very, very good! Loved this one!! Makes me think twice about trees though...LOL!

I have a final flash up too. So whowever's interested go ahead and take a gander...oh, yeah, that includes you too Charles, my friend. LOL! Enjoy.

Vesper said...

Charles, I remember Bernita's contest, but this variation on the piece you had there is so much more powerful... A shiver goes up my spine...

The black and the red are incredible...

Thank you for this month-long treat. Happy Halloween!

(I also wrote another little something for the occasion.)

L.A. Mitchell said...

The trees were a great twist. Who knew they had such strong motivation?

Thanks for stirring the creative juices in all of us this Halloween season.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana, I hope not. I hang out in the trees a lot myself.

Eric1313, congrats on the writing gig. Sounds like it would be fun. And yes, maybe the game will take off. Good to see you.

Erik, cool!

Mark, judging from the rate people are moving into our rural neighborhood humans are definitely in never-ending supply.

Archavist, and now it's time to eat some candy.

Mary Witzl, glad you enjoyed.

Bernardl, thankee.

Laughingwolf, glad you enjoyed. I'll add your new link to tihs post today.

Lucas Pederson, thanks, I'll add your link to this post today.

Vesper, glad you enjoyed. I'll be adding your new link today.

L.A., and thanks for adding in your own stuff. Much appreciated.

Heff said...

Happy Halloween Charles. I enjoyed every one of the stories.

Barbara Martin said...

Charles, I've posted a flash fiction today, just done.

Excellent piece this is.

laughingwolf said...

thx bud :D

WH said...

Love the ravens as a unifying force here--in the trees, the ravens preside--great! What a fantastic series you've produced. Most excellent, as the saying goes !!!

Scott said...


That is a great story! I really liked it.

Steve Malley said...

One minute I'm right in the middle of a Frazzetta painting. The next, it's Bruegel!

Very, very cool...

ivan said...

Oh Woodsman, don't spare that tree! :)

Anyway, flash of talent, Charles.

Miladysa said...

Superb! My favourite :D

I think your Halloween Horror October will become a blogging tradition.

Happy Halloween.

Travis Cody said... it's not really our fault that we're warlike!

I've always thought of oaks as more majestic than sinister. But I guess if it's a question of life or death, a tree has got to do what a tree has got to do.

David Cranmer said...

What can I say but excellent. I'm a broken record here but I think you should start your own horror e-zine. I would love to read this year around. However, I will be looking forward to next October.

Donnetta said...

Oooo. Very good one, Charles. Buckets of blood and all! Well, shucks, I didn't get my 55er up in time to get a link. Well, don't let that stop you. Come by and read it anyway. Happy Halloween. D

AvDB said...

Perfect ending to my Halloween night. Beautiful language, here. Although I think you might be accused of blaspheme in Druidic circles by having the sacred oaks turn the battle against the Morrigan. You big troublemaker, you.

Happy Halloween to you and Lana, and thanks again for all the flash linkage.

Charles Gramlich said...

Heff, glad you did.

Barbara, I read yours, and added your link to my post. Good one.

Laughinwolf, no problem.

Billy, thanks. Glad you liked 'em.

Scott, appreciate that.

Steve Malley, variation is good.

Ivan, yes, maybe the woodsmen are saving us all.

Miladysa, thanks. I think it could certainly become a tradition. I'd enjoy that.

Travis, trees just wanna have fun.

David Cranmer, thanks. I appreciate you spreading the word about the stories. Glad you enjoyed them.

Donnetta, I will make sure to add your link to my next post where I include all the links I've put up.

Avery, well Lana is pretty close to a druid herself so maybe she'll protect me. Glad you enjoyed.

Greg said...

nice way to finish out the month! thanks for the great stories. looking forward to another halloween horror october next year.

Charles Gramlich said...

Greg, thanks. Glad you enjoyed.

Merisi said...

The Revenge of the Trees! :-)

Barrie said...


Maybe I will try this next year. A horror post or two.

Charles Gramlich said...

Merisi, indeed.

Barrie, you should.

Rick said...

After reading this flash, the next tree that even looks at me, I'm blow torching the bastard.

I enjoyed not only this story very much, but loved the stylistic flow. No wonder I keep coming back here to visit.

Chris Eldin said...

All those twisted and gnarled branches--always suspected there was a hidden world.
Love this!

Synchronicity said... are such an incredible writer! i do feel like a real idiot but can you tell me what flash fiction entails? i have heard the term so often but i never understood the rules of it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Rick, glad you enjoyed. Keep watching the trees.

Chris Eldin, given untamed population growth, the trees better strike soon.

Merelyme, flash fiction just means very short fiction, but fiction that should have a genuine beginning, middle and ending rather than just being a scene from a longer work. There are various lengths for what is declared flash fiction, anywhere from 50 to 1000 words. I tend to think of anything less than 500 as being flash fiction.

writtenwyrdd said...


Virginia Lady said...

I love the ending. Totally unexpected and very creepy.

Charles Gramlich said...

Writtenwyrd, thankee.

Virginia Lady, glad you enjoyed.

Sarah Hina said...

I remember your piece well, Charles, from Bernita's contest. Those ravens, and their ghoulish demise, stuck with me.

Great flash series! Really enjoyed it.